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.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Most Read