Okay, off my own soapbox, back to my original message...
In her inclusive environment, I have no doubt that not only is Samantha learning from her "typical" peers, and her teacher, but her peers and her teacher are also learning from her. Just by her mere existence in their daily lives, I believe that she teaches valuable lessons: Acceptance. Tolerance. Empathy. Persistence. Patience. Unconditional love and friendship. Individuality.
I like to think they will carry these lessons with them for the rest of their lives. They're important, and will assist them in their interpersonal relationships with others, in their endeavors to be good people, in their ability to care.
Teachers learn how to teach to each child's unique learning style. They learn how to become more well-rounded educators, with experiences to share with other students-to-come who may also have differences. Samantha's 1st grade teacher constantly strives to enhance her own education by attending conferences during her free time or reading books that explain the learning differences of different kids.
The International Down Syndrome Coalition (IDSC) recently created a poster out of Samantha's experiences with her teacher last year. I was so excited to help out at the IDSC table at the NDSC conference in Denver last weekend, with this poster hanging behind me, sharing my girl and our message with everyone. One woman purchased 18 of these posters to give to the new teachers in the school in which she works. I've been sitting on this for ages, desperate to share it with everyone, waiting until it was posted on their site, and now I, too, can show the world. This photo says it all, shows the mutual love and respect that Sammi and her teacher have for each other. Not only have they had the experience of the teacher/student relationship, but they are also friends. And that is the most valuable takeaway of all.
|This poster can be purchased from IDSC if you would like a copy, and is also on their FB wall if you would like to share the message. :-)|