“Inclusion is a priority. We need to give all students opportunities to be with same age peers. Inclusion ‘pays it forward,’ builds leadership skills and develops hearts.” Dr. Latricia Johnson, principal of Meadowbrook Elementary School in Corpus Christi Independent School District has put her beliefs into action. As part of a review of the district inclusive practices with PPCD and Pre-K, Stetson and Associates visited elementary campuses to evaluate the level of inclusion and best practices that foster successful inclusion of all students.
Meadowbrook is in the third year of a fully inclusive morning PPCD/Pre-K class. When it began, there was a celebration complete with a ribbon cutting ceremony for all parents and students. The class is staffed with two teachers and two paraprofessionals. Differentiated instructional strategies and station teaching are utilized to insure that all learner needs are addressed and academic learning time is optimized.
The morning begins with breakfast for all students followed by circle time. The Pre-K teacher and PPCD teacher share circle time activities equally. The students are in a collective group with no distinction between students receiving special education services and general education students.
There are four learning stations with an adult at each one. Students are divided into to four groups. Those who need assistance may have a student buddy in their group. Each station is 15 minutes in length with a structured transition between. The themes of the stations are based on the Pre-K Guidelines.
During the two days of observation, during lunch the Pre-K and PPCD students ate lunch at the same table. There was no differentiation between the students in PPCD and those in Pre-K. The second day included the award ceremony and “graduation” to Kindergarten for the students in the inclusive class. Each teacher was responsible for awarding certificates and awards to half of the class.
The afternoon classes are not combined due to the behavioral needs of some students. There are students who qualify for PPCD included in the afternoon Pre-K without support. The PPCD class follows the Pre-K guidelines with modifications. They focus on behavior and social interventions that will allow students to spend more time in a general education class.
Observation tools used were the “Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities Effective Practices Observation Tool” and “Quality Learning Environment and Student Indicators for Inclusive Pre-school Programs.” The associate met with the principal following the 2-day observation. The recommendation was made to move the two classrooms within closer proximity. Dr. Johnson followed this recommendation and the rooms are now located next to each other with a shared door in between. This will allow for more space for the morning class and increased shared activities with the afternoon classes.
Meadowbrook Elementary offers materials that reinforce learning concepts for all parents to check out through the library or teachers.
The entire Meadowbrook staff had participated in training conducted by Stetson and Associates. In searching for opportunities for direct staff development at their “finger tips,” the campus accessed Stetson Online. The entire staff of Meadowbrook Elementary took Differentiated Instruction, Accommodations and Modifications, Collaborative Teaching, New Models of Support, and Multi-Level Instruction. Dr. Johnson gave the staff time after school that was allotted for meetings to assist in completing these courses.