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Inclusion Column

The World is Changing - And So Are We!

by Laurie Behan

For the very first time, a child with Down Syndrome has been chosen in the annual photo contest for the Gerber Baby (Gerber Baby Food). The world is changing and we are changing with it. In fact, ASFM is taking the initiative in global leadership in Inclusion.

Open Minds, Caring Hearts and Global Leadership - what a perfect mission statement to reflect the Inclusion MIndset that ASFM has embraced. We join other leaders in global change, such as the United Nations, in acknowledging that all children should be valued; that every child has potential; that every child deserves to be educated and achieve personal success; that every child needs to experience a sense of belonging.

Research has shown that Inclusion is a benefit for the entire school community: inclusive teachers use evidence-based best practices such as differentiation, small group work, project-based learning, problem-based learning and student led inquiry. These teaching strategies provide better instruction for struggling students, gifted students and everyone in between. Academic excellence is maintained in the presence of inclusive practice. Students graduating from inclusive learning environments display more cultural sensitivity, empathy, communication and teamwork skills.

Business has known for some time that inclusive hiring practices promote diversity. Diversity has been identified as a cornerstone of business success in many of the most successful companies in the world. It is by bringing divergent points of view together that innovation and creative problem-solving are born. Companies practising inclusion are more successful in attracting and keeping high quality talent. They are able to broaden their client base and increase productivity.

Students graduating from ASFM will have the skills and attitudes necessary for assuming their role in global leadership. With intentional support of our school’s cultural shift towards inclusive education, they will become the “high quality talent” that major companies of the world seek and retain.

At ASFM we will continue to work towards every child achieving personal success and a sense of belonging. We will continue to expand our role in the international school community in advocating for and supporting growth in inclusive education. Inclusion is an idea whose time has come. It is the right thing to do. PERIOD.