Inclusion at Ipswich High School


imageMost public schools have a significant population of students who have special needs. However, just because someone has a physical or mental impairment doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently from the other students in the classroom. The idea of inclusion should be on the minds of non-disabled students, because students with disabilities have a hard time trying to fit in, whether socially or academically. “Inclusion is a simple principle that states children with special needs should take part in regular classes and activities – just like children their age without special needs. Some proponents of inclusion believe it should be based on ability – others believe all children with special needs should experience standard classroom education.” According to the website the social express, a key part of every person’s personality should be to include everybody, even though they may be different.

Katelyn Brown, a senior at Ipswich High School, is a peer mentor to a student with a disability. As described, “I basically am a teacher to a student with disabilities. I follow one student around to her class and offer her a helping hand. At times it can be difficult because she gets upset that she is different, so I have to be there to boost her confidence and simply just be her friend.” As previously mentioned, students that have disabilities have trouble fitting in. Katelyn is a perfect example of including everyone.
As a matter of fact, students benefit academically with students with disabilities in their classroom. The social express states, “When children who have learning problems are included, students without disabilities tend to perform better academically. For example, a teacher is more inclined to break instruction into finer parts or repeat directions if he or she has a student in the room who is deaf, blind, or has a developmental disability.” In an interview with Mrs. Ellrott, the new special education teacher she stated, “Yes, there are always certain modifications and supports that meet the needs of particular students in our classes that teachers need to be mindful of. That said, the general education teachers here at Ipswich High School provide many accommodations universally so all students benefit, not only students with disabilities. They make my job easy!”
Students can learn from other students with disabilities, inside the classroom. For example Katelyn said, “The best lesson I learned while being in a classroom with a student who has a disability is that I must always be her helping hand and give her my support with whatever she needs help with.”
A sad thing that often happens with students with disabilities is that they are not viewed the same by students that don’t have disabilities. As Katelyn says, “I feel that many students do treat these students different, which is sad because we are all the same. These students didn’t choose to have a disability so they don’t deserve to be treated differently by their peers.” This should be that attitude of most students. The phrase “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” can relate to people with disabilities because their appearance doesn’t define who they are; their attitude does. Students with disabilities are as capable as other people without disabilities. Mrs. Ellrott states, “Absolutely! I truly believe the challenges students with disabilities face come with strengths and gifts that their non-disabled peers may not have (yet). For example, students who are accustomed to struggle often have a different mindset than students for whom things come easily. When something is tough, they often persevere, think out-of-the-box, and are resourceful at problem-solving when their peers might be inclined to give up. Struggle is painful, and many of us avoid doing things we think we’re not naturally good at.” This shows that even people with disabilities are as capable as other students.

A perfect example of this would be my experience; I take many honors classes and am able to succeed in them.
Students and teachers can learn from students with disabilities. Mrs. Ellrott says, “I learn from students every day, and I often marvel at many students’ flexible thinking and creative problem-solving. I see so much growth within students when they realize that progress comes from hard work much more than just relying on natural ability.” This shows that students with disabilities learn the value of perseverance and how important it is for their every day life.
There are always more ways students could include students with disabilities into their activities. When asked whether or not students with disabilities are included socially at IHS, Katelyn says, “I feel more could be done at IHS to get students to interact with one another more.” To improve this Katelyn says, “I would just make more social interactions, and maybe have an assembly so students of IHS understand the struggles these kids face with disabilities.”
I challenge any student to try to reach out to a student with a disability and get to know them for who they are and not what they look like, or how they learn. Try to include them in everyday activities, like having lunch, talking in the hallway, or sitting with them in class. Getting to know a student with a disability can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.