Cumberland School is dedicated to every child, every day. Our special and general education staff collaborate to promote the use of inclusive practices to deliver instruction. Inclusion is thought of as a universally designed learning/school community where all students are full members working toward common content standards within the same curricular topic, through the use of flexible structures and places where each student is progressing with individualized resources. The manifestation of inclusion practices derives from individual student’s needs outlined in their IEP.
Each student is an individual with unique strengths and talents. Within the inclusive model, strengths of the individual are built upon through modifications, academic scaffolding, and adult support and instruction. Through the use of these practices, all students are given the opportunity to access the same rich curriculum delivered by their classroom teachers. In addition, students are given multiple means to express what they have learned through creative use of assessments.
Through the use of inclusive practices, students are also given an opportunity to grow socially through organic experiences with their peers in their classrooms. This fosters a sense of community in which all members of the classroom have a voice and contribute to their learning. The diversity of strengths within the classroom is truly something to be embraced and celebrated!
Perhaps the positive impact of inclusion practices is best understood through the lense of a parent with a child who receives special education services. Below is one parent’s description of how inclusive practices have positively impacted her son’s educational experience.
“Together my husband and I have six children. They have all been in a regular classroom, including our son who was born with Down syndrome. Because he’s never been made to feel different, he acts like other kids. He enjoys his peers, plays softball, is part of a Minecraft after-school club, and does a lot of things his classmates do. Sometimes he just needs a little help. Sometimes activities need to be modified so he can participate.
In referring to the general education classroom his parent notes, “He raises his hand to participate. He gives presentations. He makes art and enjoys performing with classmates. Because of this, we’ve noticed lots of positives. He’s able to read. He’s a leader among some of his friends. When we travel, he doesn’t hesitate to shake hands and meet people. He’s a fun, outgoing boy who loves his school. All kids should be so lucky to have this kind of relationship and experience.”