Tomlin Middle School Moves Forward with Inclusion

Tomlin Middle School is located in eastern Hillsborough County. Tomlin has a diverse socio-economic population which includes students with disabilities who are served within a broad continuum of services. Tomlin has traveled a long distance over the last several years in their efforts to create an inclusive school. Until the period of time between 2002 and 2004, Tomlin utilized scheduling techniques that excluded students with disabilities from the general education classrooms. With the assistance of the administration and FIN, Tomlin began to look closely at more flexible scheduling for all students at risk. The 2004-2005 school year master schedule was created based on the needs of these students first and many collaborative teaching models were built in to accommodate these students. At the same time, training was offered that helped to create productive collaborative teaching partnerships. Student outcomes demonstrated that these approaches were increasing improved test scores and Adequate Yearly Progress.

During the 2005-2006 school year, Tomlin’s staff and administration felt strongly that in order to sustain and maintain their growing success, teachers needed to be more adequately supported. A “Collaborative Teaching Technical Support Group” framework was created by FIN and facilitated by the Area 6 District office ESE staff. This group met from October, 2005 through April, 2006. The design of this group was intended to identify priorities goals for inclusion, determine the greatest challenges, and problem solve possible solutions and steps to change. The membership of this group included general education, exceptional education and three administrators. The culminating activity in April developed an action plan with a timeline that supported change, taking staff and students to the next level of inclusion for the 2006-2007 school year.

The teachers and administrators involved in this support group found themselves not only establishing effective change by means of the problem solving process, but also helped to develop a camaraderie that enhanced the entire school. This type of learning community contributes to building professional skills, raising the awareness of administrators, and providing a full continuum of services for ALL students

Maitland Middle Supports Inclusion

Three years ago, the administration at Maitland Middle School made the bold decision to discontinue the school’s model of providing services to students with disabilities in separate Varying Exceptionality (VE) classes. During the 2004-2005 school year, students who were typically taught in VE Language Arts, VE Math, or a self-contained classroom were included in each respective general education classroom, allowing them the opportunity to learn grade-level curriculum alongside typical peers.

Although it has not been an easy transition, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teachers are learning how to manage and provide flexible supports to their students in general education classes. These teachers are using a Support Facilitation model to teach students Strategies Intervention Model (SIM) Learning Strategies and are assisting general education teachers in making accommodations. As a result, general education teachers are learning how to manage heterogeneous group of students by making curricular accommodations, working with Support Facilitators to differentiate their instruction, and utilizing SIM Content Enhancement Routines.

Faculty and staff at Maitland Middle realize that making inclusion work is an ongoing process. With the support of the administration, the dedication and hard work of teachers, and the flexibility of the entire staff, all students will gain knowledge to prepare them for life!

Co-teaching is a powerful method of teaching for all students at Maitland Middle. In their class, Mrs. Alice Behan, geography teacher, and Mr. David Bloom, ESE teacher, hear students making comments such as:“Mr. Bloom helps me stay focused.”

“I like having two teachers because if you are having a hard time with work, another teacher will help.”

Submitted by: Dawn Kirkpatrick, FIN/Orange
Co-authored by: Christine Wallace, Inclusion Specialist, Maitland Middle School

Collaborative Teaching with Collaborative Partners

The Florida Inclusion Network, FDLRS/Action, and Orange County Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Department have joined together and created a three day Collaborative Teaching training to support inclusion of ESE students in general education classrooms and promote best practices instruction between general education and ESE teachers. On July 26 and 27, teachers from Maitland Middle, Legacy Middle, Conway Middle, Glenridge Middle, Shingle Creek Elementary, and Rolling Hills Elementary learned about innovative service delivery models and methods of collaborative teaching, and engaged in discussions about supporting students with disabilities in heterogeneous learning environments.

How did they feel about starting the new school year after this workshop?

Submitted by: Dawn Kirkpatrick, FIN/Orange

Cooperative Learning School Trainers

A Cooperative Effort Between FIN/USF St. Petersburg and Sarasota County School District

It began rather simply – FIN/USF St. Petersburg providing financial support to a few teachers from Sarasota County to attend the Kagan Cooperative Learning Summer Institute in Orlando. But what started as something small has grown into a district wide initiative! According to Jim Shaulis, District Staff Development Specialist, “This planted the seed in our district. Because of Mike’s initiative and FIN’s continued support, we currently have over 50 Kagan School Trainers and another 50 currently being trained to become school trainers. This has made a significant impact on our entire district.”

From August 28 – September 1, 2006, nearly 50 educators from Sarasota County gathered at the District office to complete the second part of their training to become Certified Kagan Cooperative Learning School Trainers. Dr. Jackie Minor led the group through an intensive, interactive learning experience that stretched the participants’ knowledge of Kagan Structures and prepared them to bring this information back to their school sites.

Cooperative Learning is a research-based instructional approach that benefits all students and has been linked to increased academic gains for struggling students, improved social skills, better classroom climate, and an increase in student engagement. Shaulis adds that Cooperative Learning “provides structures for all disciplines to increase student engagement, gives (students) a variety of ways to process what is being learned, and promotes both responsibility and social skills. Without changing what is taught, the Kagan Structures transform how content is taught. It is easy to learn and implement without abandoning proven lessons or curriculum.”

Sarasota County’s goal is that school trainers will hold at least one Cooperative Learning workshop per year and will host SAM (Structure A Month) Clubs which will promote the continued learning of new structures. FIN/USF St. Petersburg and Sarasota County School District’s Professional Development Department will continue to work together to support the efforts of the school trainers.

Please click on the following link to view pictures from the Kagan School Team Trainer workshop that was held in Sarasota County on August 28 – September 1, 2006.

Submitted by: Mike Muldoon FIN/USF St. Pete

What’s New at Logger’s Run Middle School in Palm Beach County, FL

Logger’s Run Middle School met AYP last year, and THEY IMPLEMENTED INCLUSION! Carol Blacharski, the principal, is very excited. Ms. Blacharski says, “I didn’t believe inclusion would work last year, but Carol Fazio (ESE contact) and the ESE teachers did, and I believe in my teachers, so I let them do it. I was wrong, they were right. Inclusion is the most powerful tool for impacting students in public schools, and we have proven it at Loggers’ Run. We met AYP for the first time, and all of our students with disabilities who took the FCAT made a 3 or above on the FCAT writes. Our lowest percentile went up 35 points. Our lowest performing student excelled on the FCAT! The academic gains were wonderful, but the social gains were the biggest benefit. We no longer have discipline issues with our ESE students. They are regular kids just like everyone else; they aren’t the slow learners anymore. They are no different from anyone else.”

The teachers all agree that it was a school-wide team effort between the ESE teachers and the general education teachers. Carol Fazio, the ESE contact worked tirelessly last year to help make it happen. Mrs. Fazio says, “It’s been a lot of work, but it has been worth it. It’s a whole new way of thinking. Scheduling and faculty buy-in are the keys to success.”

Barbara Kerbin is an ESE support teacher for 7th grade. Barbara says, “What I’ve seen happen with inclusion has been phenomenal. The teacher support is indescribable.” One of the teachers she works with is science teacher, Judi Tyll, whom she says “Does everything possible to support all students and learning.” Ms. Tyll says that, “I couldn’t do the job without Barbara, she’s the best!” Jill Miller is a Support Facilitation teacher for 8th grade. ”We made tremendous gains in FCAT scores last year with inclusion. Our students were given opportunities they had never had before.” While observing Ms. Miller and Ms. Tyll assisting students in the classroom it is evident that they are a team.

From the smiles of the students in the classrooms to the interaction between the teachers, it is obvious that collaboration is on-going between ESE and General Education teachers at Logger’s Run. Jane Morgenstern, Speech/Language Pathologist, works with Rose Ilbalarrosa in 6th grade World Cultures. Ms. Morgenstern has taught the class a strategy called SLANT. The two teachers have discovered that this, along with other strategies typically used only in ESE classrooms, are good for everyone! Ms. Morgenstern says, ‘The strategies we’ve used have benefited many students who were in need, not only the ESE students.” Ms. Ilbalarrosa reflects about their partnership: “We started together last year, and that is the best thing that ever happened to me as a teacher. It makes it easier for me to teach with the extra support I get. Everyone benefits.”

Jennifer Miranda is a 6th grade reading teacher and the professional development coordinator for the school. She facilitated the FIN differentiated instruction module at her school and has attended the Kagan Multiple Intelligences and Content Enhancement workshops throughout the year. She says “The new strategies have transformed my classroom. If you want something to work, it will work. If you want students to learn, they will learn.”

It wasn’t an easy transition from ESE classes to the general education setting for all of the students. As Judith Baker, one of the 6th grade support teachers remarked, “At first, the idea of inclusion was not easily accepted by many teachers, however, as time went on, we all saw that behavioral problems diminished and peer acceptance of the ESE students became more evident. Student confidence increased, new friends were made, and students no longer felt separated from their typical peers. Smiling faces, which were once frowns, were seen throughout the school. My students are learning so much from having two teachers working together. All the teachers I work with are outstanding.” Ms Kirshenbaum, a 6th grade math teacher who works with Judith. Baker , says “Inclusion is the only way to go. Ms. Baker is an awesome teacher.”

Last year, many of the teachers at Loggers’ Run were not enthusiastic about inclusion. Ms. Feeney, the 8th great pre-algebra teacher said, “I was apprehensive and feeling ill-equipped. But, I found that all my students were great learners and anxious to shine. Tony is my cheerleader.” Dr. Tony Santana is her support teacher. He says “I couldn’t do what I do without her….she’s the best! She’s a great teacher, and we had a beautiful year together. Last year, we had a struggling learner who was shy, withdrawn, and unmotivated to learn. By the end of the year, he was a bundle of energy and left Logger’s Run with honors!”

These are just a few of the stories about how inclusive education has changed the lives of students, teachers, and administrators. By trying something new and following the vision of Carol Fazio they realized that inclusion works….ask anyone at Loggers’ Run.

Submitted by: Marilyn A. Schiavo and Janet Atallah, FIN/Palm Beach

“Inclusion Success Story”

Hi, I am a sophomore in a school in Polk County. I’ve come a long way since I was two and my mom came to Romania to adopt me from my orphanage. The neglect and abuse I suffered in my Romanian orphanage caused a lot of problems for me. Specialists labeled me mentally retarded and didn’t know if I would ever improve.

In preschool I was in a Varying Exceptionalities class. My teachers doubted I would ever be able to be in a regular class …”It wouldn’t be fair to me or the normal kids”. Thankfully, my mom went to Partners in Policymaking and found out about I.D.E.A. and Inclusion. She didn’t want me to go to a special school so she insisted I attended a regular kindergarten classroom at my neighborhood school. I was one of the first kids, in Polk County to be included and have always been ever since.

Over the past twelve years most of my teachers weren’t ready for inclusion and didn’t know how to teach a kid like me. There have been some frustrating days for everyone, especially me! But, now that I think about it, I’m glad I was included because it made me try harder to keep up, plus I have lots of great friends to help me along the way.

Two years ago, I was in middle school, getting ready for my BIG transition to high school. My heart’s desire is to one day become a working actress. My JA volunteer suggested I attend a school of the Arts. Such schools are very competitive, most of the students are very high achievers and all students must be on a regular high school diploma track to go there. Some of my middle school teachers thought I should switch to a special diploma. But NO, I decided I would stay on the regular high school diploma track and try to attend a school of the arts.

To make a long story short, after a lot of practice, I made the audition and was accepted to a school of the arts in the Musical Theater department. I just completed my freshman year and I am accomplishing more than anyone ever thought possible. For the first time ever, I actually earned high honors on my report card! It would not have been possible without the accommodations at school and a lot of hard work. Every night, from the time I come home from school until I go to bed, I work on my homework, study with my tutor or go to voice, acting or dancing lessons. During the summer I volunteered by helping younger students at dance and acting camps. I am also a member of the Florida Youth Council. Even though I am very busy with all of my activities, I am the happiest teenager in the whole world, living my dream!

One of the most rewarding experiences was when I went to Europe to testify at the European Union about the importance of International Adoptions last spring. It was one of the most challenging tasks yet I am very happy to say that the resolution that I was advocating for passed!

My future goals are to graduate, go to college and become a working actress possibly at Disney World. If I’m really lucky I’ll be in a movie! Another one of my dreams and goals is to be a motivational speaker. I love sharing my story and hope that it inspires people to never give up. My most important goal is to continue to be a self advocate and an advocate for others.

Submitted by: Bonnie Dupuis FIN/Polk

Collaboration can have magical effects!

The Florida Inclusion Network helped the efforts of the Interagency Council of Brevard by designing and supporting a professional development opportunity dedicated to providing information, strategies and resources to Brevard County Public School guidance counselors. The Interagency Council of Brevard is the collaborative effort of many agencies, who share the mission of enhancing the lives of students and adults with disabilities. Each of the guidance counselors had the opportunity to meet with all of the represented agencies/organizations and were provided resource notebooks that they were encouraged to share with parents and families. Participants also attended sessions on topics such as Self-Determination, Transition, Vision Issues, and Social and Academic Inclusion. To round out this special event…Dr. Dan Ezell and MAGIC BUDDIES provided a stellar magic performance for all. MAGIC BUDDIES is a social inclusion project designed to foster relationships between students with and without disabilities, who have a love of magic. Although Dr. Dan is a great magician…the students were the ones that STOLE THE SHOW!

Submitted by: Dr. Laura Verry-Sidoran, FIN/UCF Brevard

Canada to Replicate Florida Peer Supports!

During the second week of March, a team of professionals from the Developmental Disabilities Resource Center of Calgary, Canada met with the FIN Product Development office to gather information and ideas on how to implement peer supports for students with disabilities. Their goal is to replicate in-class and social peer support programs in Calgary area schools with a long-term vision of extending peer support programs to schools ALL ACROSS Canada!

During their visit, our Canadian colleagues Pat Maas, Mary-Ann Jasinski, and Judith Sherin toured Weightman Middle School in Pasco County to see, first-hand, how peers are supporting the learning and social participation of students with significant disabilities. They got to experience southern hospitality at its finest as the principal, Shae Davis, and her staff, Don Fowler, Behavior Specialist, and Bambi Elliott, Guidance Counselor, explained how the program was developed and implemented on their campus. But the real treat was when the peers themselves shared their experiences as part of the program. Pat, Mary-Ann, and Judith said it was worth the whole trip to Florida just to hear what the students had to say!

Additionally, West Hernando Middle School teachers, Phyllis DeSesso and Mike Pilla, along with their Principal, Joe Clifford, gave our Canadian friends a photo presentation on how academic and social supports are benefiting the students with AND without disabilities on their campus. Implementation guides and manuals were shared with our colleagues to help them get started with program planning back home in Calgary.

Amidst two busy days of meetings and tours, the Canadian team found time to share ideas and strategies that reflect best practices for inclusive education in their local schools. We learned a lot from our northern colleagues and plan to keep the lines of communication open to share strategies, tools, and successes as we make inclusion a reality for all students with disabilities across the North American Continent!

Submitted by: Vicki Barnitt, FIN Product Development

Bellview Middle School Supports Inclusion

Four people arrive early every day at Bellview Middle School. They meet each day before the first bell to plan their day of hard work supporting ESE students in general education classrooms.

Bellview Middle School in Pensacola Florida,has embraced the collaborative model of supportive facilitation wholeheartedly. Bellview made the decision to include previously full time ESE students in the general education classes this year. “Our students are exceeding our expectations both socially and academically” said Karla Scott,
6th grade inclusion teacher. “Students have grown in confidence by leaps and bounds” commented Al Grimm, ESE teacher and support facilitator. Rounding out the support team and considered invaluable are paraprofessionals Catherine Faoro and Shantora Moultrie. Bellview intends to take their inclusion programs to the 7th and 8th grades in Fall 2006. Principal Vicki Gibowski, is planning training, scheduling and all that goes into preparing for successful inclusion.

Submitted by: MJ Ziemba and Ann Selland FIN/Escambia

Alachua County Comes Together for BPIE!

(Best Practices for Inclusive Education)

Best Practices for Inclusive Education: An Assessment and Planning Tool for Systemic Change (BPIE) is an internal assessment instrument to facilitate the analysis, implementation, and improvement of inclusive educational practices at the district, school and education team levels. Use of the BPIE will validate areas of strength in implementation of best practices, as well as identify areas in need of attention to maximize the successful implementation of inclusive educational practices across educational settings for all students.

Analysis of data and information obtained through use of the BPIE should lead to development of an action plan including timelines and persons responsible for implementation and evaluation of specific goals.

Alachua County educators, parents, community members and service providers are commended for participating in this process. Stan Weser, FIN Facilitator, skillfully facilitated and we thank him for his time and efforts to help Alachua County in this process.

Submitted by: Libby Willis and Kimberlee Oakes FIN/UNF

Flexible Scheduling for In-Class Supports: A Blueprint for Change

One of the key factors in successfully providing support for students in inclusive classrooms is strategic scheduling. On December 6, 2005, Rose Calco – FIN/Hillsborough, Eloise Hayes – FIN/USF-Tampa, and Stan Weser – FIN/FGCU conducted “Flexible Scheduling” training for teams from Lee County. Teachers learned a systematic process for scheduling students with disabilities so they would receive the right amount of support at the right time. Teams immediately applied the scheduling process as they worked together to match adult and/or peer assistance to the in-class support needs of THEIR students in general education settings.

Marsha Menear from Three Oaks Middle School works to match student support needs with ESE personnel in general education classrooms.

Submitted by: Stan Weser FIN/FGCU

Lee County Celebrates National Inclusive Schools Week

This annual event, sponsored by the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative, took place from December 5-9, 2005. Next year’s celebration occurs December 4-8, 2006. For more information on inclusive education and how to get your school involved in this exciting event visit the Collaborative’s Web site: www.inclusiveschools.org. This website offers numerous examples of how others have celebrated inclusive schools and resources to help you and your school get started!

Dr. Ruthie Lohmeyer, Principal, and students from Orangewood Elementary in Lee County celebrate the success they have experienced as a result of inclusion!

Submitted by: Stan Weser FIN/FGCU

Escambia Celebrates National Inclusive Schools Week

Students baked cookies and excellent ideas were shared at two Escambia Celebrations for Inclusive Schools during Inclusive Schools Week, December 5-9.2005.

The Florida Inclusion Network and the Exceptional Student Education Department hosted the new event. “I have never had the opportunity to hear about how other schools are handling scheduling problems, teacher attitudes, and so on. It was great to get ideas about how we can do some things differently. It was also good to hear that we are doing really well in areas where others are struggling.”
Linda Willis, Teacher of the Year, Pine Forest High School.

” I am really excited to be a part of this district’s initiative to increase the time of student’s with disabilities in the general education class. Having this opportunity to get together really helps us see where we can improve.”
Donna Bryant, AP, Lipscomb Elementary.

Submitted by: MJ Ziemba and Ann Selland FIN/Escambia

Marion County Teachers Continue their Professional Development

Teachers in Marion County have been through a series of professional development opportunities beginning with Collaborative Planning and Teaching, followed by Differentiated Instruction and Differentiated Instruction Through Multiple Intelligences. Recently, 26 teachers attended these workshops and experienced activities which had them up, talking, meeting and greeting others, and discovering new strategies to renew students’ interest in learning the curriculum! One thing about these workshops.they’re interactive! Judging from the smiles, the teachers walked away with lots of new strategies, but also, new professional friendships.

Submitted by: Libby Willis and Kimberlee Oakes FIN/UNF

Inclusion In Duval County!

Kernan Middle School (KMS) has incorporated full inclusion in 6th -8th grades since its opening day in August 2002. It is a model school for both CHAMPS and Foundations, which creates a positive, structured, and safe learning environment. Kernan Middle has approximately 1247 students with 246 students in special education programs. Kernan’s exceptional education program students include Gifted, Emotional Handicapped, Learning Disabled, Educable Mentally Handicapped, Other Health Impaired, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Inclusion has been tremendously successful at Kernan Middle School due to on-going teacher training, heterogeneous grouping of students, and a strong school-wide commitment to the inclusion program. Kernan Middle School is on the cutting edge of inclusion by fully incorporating students with educable mental handicaps in the general education classroom. It is awesome to see students with trainable mental handicaps also being included in general education classes. Kernan has been awarded a Social Inclusion Project (SIP) grant, a special program intended to foster social interactions between students with trainable mental handicaps and their general education peers.

Kernan Middle School is an “A” school. They are continuing to see academic and social gains for their students with disabilities. During the 2004-05 school year, KMS helped to close the achievement gap between students with disabilities and general education students by improving the reading and math scores for students with disabilities by 7%. Kernan Middle School is a great example of how inclusion can be successful if properly implemented and supported.

Picture of Scott Schneider

Submitted by: Scott Schneider FIN/Duval

General Education Teacher’s Perspective on Inclusion

Everyone has had a teacher in their lives that they remember with a smile. Mary Ann Waring is just such a teacher. She makes the students in her class feel special, secure and respected. Mrs. Waring teaches at McArthur Elementary, Pensacola FL, and is one of the general education inclusion teachers. Following is a letter she wrote about her experience with the inclusion model:

I have been fortunate to teach in an inclusive classroom for the past six years. I noticed very quickly that inclusion was the answer to a problem I had faced since I first started teaching. That problem was how to meet the needs of a child with a disability who was pulled from the general education classroom and served in an ESE resource room. I have to say that I really felt like a failure at this. So often, through ignorance, I didn’t refer to the IEP to help me determine which subject each child needed accommodations for or if they did not need any special instruction. In fact, I didn’t even know how to begin reading an IEP. Looking back, I think that I was so afraid of asking a child with a disability to participate in assignments for fear of “frustrating him/her” or “damaging his/her self esteem”. Too often, I did not insist that the child work up to potential in anything. Essentially, the longer the child was gone from the regular classroom, the less I knew about his/her abilities and the less I was able to bond with the child. There was so much that these children missed during the day (the amount of information we share with students is staggering) that I sometimes found myself frustrated and wearing blinders because I couldn’t look at this problem and find and answer.

The exact opposite was true for the children struggling within the regular education setting who did not qualify for any special programs. Too much was expected without the help they needed.

The inclusive classroom has sufficiently addressed both these problems. During the “Dealing with Differences” workshop, the instructor said something which really got my attention. She said, “Regular classroom teachers have this notion that ESE teachers have some sort of special trick up their sleeves to teach children with learning difficulties. This just isn’t the case.” Of course, I proceeded to learn many wonderful accommodations in that workshop that I told myself would work for so-and-so.and so-and-so.. all general education students! This was the beginning of my understanding of the power of inclusion. The inclusive model we use allows for both a certified ESE teacher and a paraprofessional to provide supports in the classroom for one-half of the day. Therefore, there is more time for one-on-one instruction and small group work. The training we teachers and paraprofessionals have received has given us strategies and tools to reach all learners. As inclusion continues to be a priority, the amount of time ESE teachers and paraprofessionals spend in the general education classroom has increased, further allowing our students to succeed. I would absolutely be unable to return to a pull out program! I really feel that we can teach all children working as a team. Inclusion provides us with the means to do so.

Mary Waring wants ALL students to learn in her class

Submitted by: Ann Selland FIN/Escambia

Co-Teaching: One School’s Perspective

One and a half years ago, Crawfordville Elementary School (Wakulla County) began implementing inclusion. The co-teaching service delivery model is embedded throughout the school. Following are statements from the administrator and the teachers:

“ESE is no longer viewed as a place where teachers have a magic bag of tricks. General Education teachers are learning accommodations and using them for the benefit of ALL students. ESE teachers have a better understanding of what grade-level mastery of standards looks like.”

– Tanya English, School Administrator

“Co-teaching is such a powerful way to teach and I firmly believe in it.”
– Catherine Cutchen, K teacher

“Each student benefits from the strengths of the other students.”

-Cori Revell, 2nd grade teacher

“All students benefit from the various creative methods that are developed and implemented when there are two instructors creating the lessons. Co-teaching allows the students to be together, giving all the feeling of unity and being a cohesive team.”

– Kim Dutton, 3rd grade teacher

“Co-teaching has helped me because I am learning new teaching strategies from my co-teacher.”

– Lou Ann Hames, 4th grade teacher

“Inclusion is a great way to make all students feel a part of a class. I have seen improvement in language skills, cooperative learning, and student independence.”

-Lynne Smith, 5th grade teacher

Their advice for others?

Be flexible! Attend training! Be open to constructive criticism. Stay positive. Try new things. DON’T GIVE UP – It works! Have lots of patience for both students and adults. Make time to plan together. Share equally the good and the bad. Learn to compromise and communicate. Get support form FIN early on!

2nd grade co-taught class

K co-taught class

3rd grade co-taught class

Submitted by: Sallie Payne FIN/FSU

Inclusion Soaring High in only 5 months!

Finegan Elementary is off to a tremendous start with inclusion. Finegan has just recently moved their 3rd and 5th grade students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) into the general education classroom. The principal of Finegan Elementary, Mr. David Pinter, decided to make this change for the benefit of the students and the entire school. Finegan has implemented many successful strategies and programs to benefit the general education classrooms in the past, however, it was decided that this was not enough to make the significant academic gains that parents and faculty were striving for. The parents an faculty wanted academic gains for all students and it was decided by Mr. Pinter and his administrative staff that the way to accomplish this goal was to implement inclusion. The 3rd and 5th grade faculty were trained in a special 2 day training of Collaborative Planning and Teaching (CPT) by FIN Duval in their own media center. The training was put in place, then the teachers and students began to work their magic. In only 5 short months the 3rd grade students who were included have made up to 50 point gains on the benchmark exams and the 5th grade students have also made great gains. The teachers continue to be amazed by the students’ quality of work and we continue to be amazed by the teachers continued and tireless efforts. The administration, teachers , and most importantly, all students in these classrooms are excited about the accomplishments to date and the opportunity that the future holds. We want to thank Principal Mr. David Pinter, Behavior Specialist Susan Smart, the phenomenal 3rd grade team, and the outstanding 5th grade team.

Submitted by: Scott Schneider and Susan Chick FIN/Duval

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