It’s been one year since Fraser Cascade School District turned their inclusive education department “upside down.”
And at the first school board meeting of this year, assistant superintendent Renge Bailie spoke to trustees about how it’s been working out.
And so far, it’s working.
“There has been a momentous shift in our inclusive education department,” she said. “It’s the birth of a new department,” with a lot of changes taking place around the district.
“We can move people where the needs are,” she said, “and it’s been a change but working quite well.”
They work out of the former ACE site in Agassiz, as a place to meet, collaborate and share.
There has also been a change to how the department is staffed and how staff is used around the district, Bailie said. The inclusive education coordinator is Donna Barner and the vice principal of inclusive education and early literacy is Jessica McKerrow.
They have also gained a new full-time district counsellor, along with counsellor Bernard Klop. The district also contracts teachers for the visually impaired, occupational therapists and physical therapists.
And, Bailie said, they have brought in a second English Language Learner’s teacher. There are currently 80 students in the district who use the ELL program, so the need was there.
“That was far too many students for one teacher,” she said.
They’ve already held one inclusive education team meeting already this year, and are focusing on sharing their knowledge and experience with the rest of the district’s teachers. They are building resources that will be available through professional development, and handbook specifically for special education assistants.
“It’s a learning time, it’s a growing time,” Bailie said. “So it’s not perfect but there are some really great things happening and I think we’re just going to improve with this new model.”
When Trustee Ron Johnstone mentioned that he was happy to see it’s working, and that it must include some difficulties with all the changes, Bailie agreed it’s had its moments.
She told the board that anytime the work gets hard as adults, it’s time to refocus and remember it’s all for the kids.
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