Ireland's Ministry of Education will pilot New Brunswick's inclusion model in 75 schools after hearing from a delegation of educational leaders from the province.
Nashwaaksis Middle School Principal Kendra Frizzell travelled to Ireland in March 2019 with Jody Carr, former Minister of Education, and Kim Korotkov, director of education support services for the provincial Department of Education. While in Ireland, they met with government officials, parent associations and advocacy groups, spoke with the National Council on Special Education, made presentations to 50-60 stakeholders and partners in education, and took part in a college lecture about inclusion.
"I shared how the values in ASD-W are respectful of human rights and that every child should belong," Frizzell said. "We work hard to remove any barriers to performance and opportunity that differences might create. We design our lessons and classrooms for everyone. Staff, parents, and students work hard at finding success for each student within diverse and inclusive learning environments. It was important for me to showcase what inclusion looks like, sounds like and feels like."
Frizzell said she was amazed at how well the New Brunswick delegation was received and how excited and inspired their audiences seemed to be. While she provided information on the school experience, Carr shared the provincial vision, the background and history of inclusive education, the integrated services model and the connection to values, research and human rights. Korotkov discussed how the Department of Education implements policy and legislation on inclusion and how the department supports schools in the process.
"Our visit tells me we are a world leader in providing a well-rounded education," explained Frizzell. "We have a lot to be proud of here. While no system is perfect, we have dedicated a tremendous amount of effort. We normalize the unique needs of every student. Above all, we are accepting of every student for who they are. We all work together the best we can to meet every student's needs. It's not easy work but the success we see in our students and the invitation to Ireland to tell policy makers and educators about what we do makes it all work it."
Frizzell said she returned home with a renewed sense of confidence and reassurance about inclusive education in New Brunswick. She noted the Irish Ministry of Education will be following up with New Brunswick for webinars, skypes and training for teachers.
The invitation to Ireland came about after Teresa Griffin and Mary Byrne from the National Council on Special Education in Ireland visited New Brunswick in November 2018 to learn about inclusion in the province's public school system. They visited five schools, including three in ASD-W, George Street Middle School, Garden Creek Elementary School and Nashwaaksis Middle School. They decided on the visit to New Brunswick after meeting Carr at an international conference in Dubai in September 2018.
Shown in the photos below are (1) Jody Carr, former NB Minister of Education; Kendra Frizzell, principal of Nashwaaksis Middle School, and Kim Korotkov, director of education support services for the provincial Department of Education, speaking to education officials and stakeholders during presentations in Ireland; (2) Kendra Frizzell making her presentation in Ireland on the school experience in inclusion in NB.