The week of December 7th, schools across Virginia celebrated Inclusive Schools Week. Traditionally, this week features opportunities to engage the whole school on the importance of inclusion in the classroom and beyond.
This year, with nearly all schools holding virtual classes, many of our Unified schools were forced to adapt and work creatively to educate their schools on inclusion. One of those schools, Stone Bridge High School, used their morning advisory meetings as their platform each day.
For a few minutes each morning, Kathryn Zielinski, a Special Education teacher at Stone Bridge, presented on a different inclusive topic. Tuesday was a short video on what inclusion means, Wednesday was a spotlight on their Unified Sports program, Thursday they promoted their Unified Club, and Friday they offered up resources on how to talk about inclusion with their peers.
Kathryn admitted that in an ideal world, plans would’ve likely looked a bit different. However, she pointed out a very real reality, “Inclusion has to happen even in a virtual world. It has to and it can. We don’t have a choice right now and the hope is that we can keep the momentum we built alive.”
As a result of Inclusion Week, a number of general education students at the school expressed interest in being a part of the Unified club and Unified sports when things settle back to normal. Kathryn certainly sees this as a win but admits there is always more work to do on educating the school.
Following inclusion week, they presented again on a new Unified P.E. program being offered at the school and after the holiday break, Kathryn hopes to have another opportunity to present in front of the entire school.
“My hope through all of this is that this information is shared out over and over again. Students need to know this is important. They need to hear it over and over again and they need to want to be a part of inclusion.”
To learn more about our Unified Champion Schools program click here.