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WSD educators gathered at École
Stanley Knowles School on April 20 for an exploration of ways to foster
inclusion in our schools.
The Celebrating Inclusion
Conference saw Stanley Knowles host staff from Champlain, John M. King, Lord
Nelson, Luxton, Norquay, Shaughnessy Park, Tyndall Park and William Whyte
schools for a day full of information, strategies and the sharing of success
“Whether our students are
struggling with disengagement, gender identity, anxiety, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum
Disorder, behavior challenges or autism, they are ours. They are welcome in our
classrooms,” said Stanley Knowles Principal Darryl Stevenson. “Perhaps Myra
Laramee, our WSD Traditional Knowledge Keeper, said it best: ‘diversity is a
gift we have been given in our school division…and everyone is welcome.’”
Photo: Tec Voc's Dance Tec Company 13 perform "Who We Are" to kick off the Celebrating Inclusion Conference.
Session topics included Autism
Spectrum Disorder, Truth and Reconciliation, anxiety in the school setting,
speech and language development, Indigenous perspectives, mindfulness, Rainbow
Resource Centre and more.
Keynote speaker and social activist
Michael Redhead Champagne told those in attendance that sometimes it was small
gestures of support that made the most impact on students.
Mr. Redhead Champagne, who dealt
with bullying in his childhood years, said he was once contemplating suicide
because of his personal problems. But his classroom teacher bought him a book
from the Scholastic Book Order—a luxury his family couldn’t afford at the time—and
that small gesture made all the difference on a day he was considering taking
his own life.
“My teacher saw me struggling, she
could see the darkness I was going through,” he said. “Inside the cover of that
book was a note in my teacher’s handwriting…it said ‘keep it up Michael. I am
proud of you.’ A simple message in a book. And what that said to me was
Michael, don’t do your plans today. I had a book to read and I had someone who
believed in me.”
Photo: Michael Redhead Champagne addresses staff during his keynote speech.
Stanley Knowles Vice-Principal Ainslie
Loria said inclusion could be any small step an educator takes to make a
connection with their students.
“Inclusion can be something like
knowing that your student doesn’t have anyone to watch them play hockey, and then
going to one of their games on your own time. Or buying food for a classroom
breakfast nook, because you know some of your students don’t have food,” she
“We hope that people here today get
some different perspectives on how they look at the children in their
classroom. Hopefully, they find something they can take back to their classroom