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

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Manslaughter charge laid against Red Deer man more than a year after homicide

A manslaughter charge has been laid against a Red Deer man, more… Continue reading

Woman facing charges after pedestrian critically injured in hit and run

A woman is in custody in connection with an alleged hit and… Continue reading

Friday hail storm came at a bad time for farmers

Amount of damage a hail storm does often depends on how far along crops are

Record 10 homers as AL wins All-Star Game 8-6 in 10 innings

American League 8 National League 6 (1o innings) WASHINGTON — A record… Continue reading

Photos: Red Deer barn dance entertains children, adults Tuesday

Hundreds of Central Albertans started their Westerner Days celebrations early with an… Continue reading

Man suffers critical injuries, Red Deer police arrest woman in pedestrian crash

A man is in hospital with critical injuries and Mounties have arrested… Continue reading

Cull hasn’t been able to solve bunny burden in Alberta mountain town of Canmore

CANMORE, Alta. — Problems persist in an Alberta mountain town overrun with… Continue reading

Canada should help Holocaust denier on trial in Germany: civil liberties group

OTTAWA — A civil liberties group is urging the Canadian government to… Continue reading

Westerner Days: Send us your photos

Your reader photo may just make the pages of the Adovcate.

Adam Henrique signs $29.1M, 5-year extension with Ducks

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Centre Adam Henrique has signed a $29.1 million, five-year… Continue reading

Fashion firms upend design routine to focus on speed, trends

NEW YORK — Prototypes? Passe. Fashion company Betabrand saw that knitwear was… 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