Meet This Year's Inclusive Education Award Winners & Nominees!
Each year, Inclusion Saskatchewan collects nominations for two awards: Inclusive Teacher of the Year and Inclusive School of the Year. We're happy to announce this year's winners as well as our incredible pool of nominees.
SHALAYNE MCDERMIT - INCLUSIVE TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Shalayne McDermit, a teacher at Indian Head High School, doesn’t just believe in inclusion, she lives it. She honours each student and challenges them to look within themselves to discover their gifts. She does this by accepting and including every person unconditionally and by working with a strength/gift based model. She leads through this model and fosters an atmosphere where all students belong and feel a connection to each other as well as their school and community. The physical environment, lessons, resources and adaptations in Shalayne’s classroom are a result of a responsive and reflective educator. She also works to eliminates barriers with universal supports. Some students in her class need a visual schedule, organizational assistance, math manipulatives, access to laptops, and OT sensory tools and she provides all of that.
ECOLE TRADITIONS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - INCLUSIVE SCHOOL OF THE YEAR
Ecole Traditions Elementary School sets a tone for all students to follow when it comes to inclusion. They have found ways for every student with challenges to succeed to the best of their abilities and not follow a standard rule of measure. They encourage individuality, embrace difference, and create a safe and positive learning environment for all students. Every child is invited to participate at their own level and the teachers will adapt anything to make it work for everyone. For example, instead of written schedules, teachers keep visual schedules. For students who have noise sensitivities, the teachers asked all parents if they would be okay with sending noise cancelling headphones with their children to school. Now, rather than having only some children use noise cancelling headphones, all children can use them as they need to which helps normalize accommodations. Ecole Traditions has a culture of acceptance and the children know they matter.
Redvers School finds many ways for the students to interact with each other which includes their classmates as well as children in other grades. The educators teach the students about the differences between equity and equality and explains that each of us need something different to help us learn. They use resources such as audio books to allow students to read the same story with their peers or have peers read to each other. Many adaptations are made to ensure that everyone is actively participating and engaging. For example, non-verbal students will do their presentations using visuals and their assistive technology. Redvers School is focused on building a positive, inclusive community.
WESTVIEW SCHOOL ESTEVAN
Westview School has come up with many creative solutions to allow all students to be successful in the classroom. These creative solutions range from weighted stuffed animals to games that have been adapted. For example, when playing tag, one student who uses a walker will freeze rather than sit when tagged. Another student, who also uses a walker, is on the volleyball team. When the ball makes contact with her walker, it is considered live. Westview School was also the first in the community to raise funds for an accessible playground so that all children can play together.
TRACEY KILIWNIK - WEYBURN
Tracey has the important role of overseeing 47 Learning Support Teachers within her school division. Tracey has come up with many ways for educators to teach children about being accepting of one another which includes creating modules to educate the children and promote acceptance. For example, one module is about someone with vision needs and another is about what it means to have autism. Tracey believes in a team approach and has created a Collaborative Planning Team to review students’ needs to help ensure each student is well supported. Tracey is incredibly passionate about her work and believes all students should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
WENDY WEICHEL - MONTMARTRE SCHOOL
Wendy cares about the success of each of her students and believes in the importance of kindness in her classroom. She has even come up with a class cheer that she does at end of each day that is about being kind to one another. Wendy does a lot of modeling for her students and will encourage them to work with and help one another. She provides adaptations as needed and focuses on each child’s strengths. Wendy has come up with creative ways to teach her students important skills such as learning to recognize and regulate their emotions. Wendy focuses on teamwork, collaboration, and connecting with her students to help foster an inclusive environment.
DEANNA SCHWINDT - ST. MICHAEL'S SCHOOL
Deanna, a Learning Facilitator for grades 1-3, has come up with many creative solutions to ensure that children are not only present in the classroom, but actively engaged. For example, one of the children uses a wheelchair so she had a physiotherapist come to the school to give ideas on how to adapt the phys ed games so that he could play. Deanna also works closely with teachers to implement strategies that promote inclusion. Deanna believes that modelling is a powerful tool and she is proud to be part of a team that has created an environment in which the children are accepting and positively engage with one another.
LORI-ANN BETTON - ST. MARY'S SCHOOL
Mrs. Betton has been a leader in inclusive education with the Lloydminster Catholic School Division for almost 30 years. The inclusive culture at St. Mary’s has been fostered through professional development and book studies focused on school-based and community inclusion strategies and collaborative problem solving. Mrs. Betton’s commitment to inclusion is at the forefront of all her leadership decisions.
KRISTINE GEOPEN-BOURGEOIS - ECOLE GRAVELBOURG SCHOOL
When Mrs. Goepen-Bourgeois plans school outings, she first considers students’ strengths and challenges. Last year, she chose mini in-town trips visiting local businesses to ensure all of her students could participate and be successful. Mrs. Goepen-Bourgeois creates an inclusive classroom where all students belong and are part of the school community. For example, she writes social stories and creates visual schedules to ensure easier transitions, then models these strategies to the benefit of the entire class.
ALEX MENDEZ AND MACKENZIE GRAHAM - DENE HIGH SCHOOL
Mr. Mendez and Mr. Graham developed the Dene High Outdoor Education Program in La Loche where, every two weeks, students of all abilities travel north to the Dene High cabin where they learn to trap, hunt, fish, snare, and clean animals. The program is open to students of all abilities and academic programs. Student-centered team meetings allow for planning to take place on how to best to include and meet the needs of each student.
DARRELL MAYES - SASKATCHEWAN POLYTECHNIC
22 out of 35 students in Mr. Mayes Disability Support Worker class are newcomers to Canada, and several students have diverse abilities, so it is crucial that the curriculum must be accessible and adaptable. At the beginning of the semester, Mr. Mayes hands out a form where students are invited to share information on how they learn best and to suggest strategies that would help in teaching them.
*Some of the language above was sourced from actual nomination letters.