Teacher, aides praised for inclusivity efforts

A teacher and two aides who make Dawne Hammerschmidt’s son keen to go to school have been rewarded for their efforts.

A teacher and two aides who make Dawne Hammerschmidt’s son keen to go to school have been rewarded for their efforts.

Hammerschmidt says she has seen her son Dane flourish in Jodi Emo’s Grade 2 class at Mattie McCullough Elementary School as he never has before. With the help of alternating aides Tracy Swim-Lisk and Carol Pchelnyk, she says her son has been welcomed, fostered and appreciated by his helpers and, more importantly, his schoolmates.

For their efforts, Hammerschmidt nominated the school and the three women for a National Inclusive Education award given out jointly by the Canadian and Alberta Associations for Community Living. The women were presented with the award in Edmonton last week.

“They’re really good at reading him. They’re really good at figuring out ‘OK, when can we push him?’ when not to push him and respect what he needs, and making accommodations for him so that it’s not so obvious that he’s different, and that’s really well recognized,” said Hammerschmidt.

“It’s obvious that’s what they’re doing because he’s really well received by all of his peers and he’s not like the little weird kid at school or the little celebrity at school because he has Down syndrome and autism. He’s just one of the kids, so he’s actually getting friends that get it and want to help. He’s not verbal, but they all respect that he’s just different and he’s not treated like he’s a special case.”

Hammerschmidt moved from Grande Prairie last year and Dane, 7, is in his first year at Mattie McCullough. She said she was at first apprehensive about placing him in a new school with new helpers, but was immediately met with staff who were welcoming and willing.

“Not that he’s ever been unhappy to go to school, but here I mention school and he’s at the door waiting. Even if he’s sick or anything, he’s like ‘Let’s go!,’” said Hammerschmidt.

She added that the educators set attainable but challenging goals for her son while in class with his peers.

Red Deer Public Schools made inclusive education a focus three years ago, along with many other school jurisdictions. Whereas once high needs students would be segregated in special education programs, now, by and large, they are incorporated into standard classroom settings.

Deputy superintendent Stu Henry said the division’s goal with developmentally disabled students is to gradually withdraw educational assistant supports as the student becomes more and more independent. Some such students, he said, may not have any educational assistants assigned to them.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

BREAKING: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Canada, U.S. lead call for enforcement of sanctions against North Korea

VANCOUVER — Canada and the U.S. led calls Tuesday for the global… Continue reading

Donald Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by an immigrant to Canada

WASHINGTON — When the White House released the results of a test… Continue reading

Food industry fails to meet most voluntary sodium reduction targets: Health Canada

TORONTO — Voluntary sodium targets for the food industry have failed to… Continue reading

Feds long way from restarting or scraping missing, murdered women inquiry: PM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is a long… Continue reading

WATCH: Rebels play floor hockey with Annie L. Gaetz students

The Rebels may be on a losing streak but they were definitely… Continue reading

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye welcome baby girl

NEW YORK — It’s a girl for Kim Kardashian West and her… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month