As a new school year commences, I am reminded of my years and years and YEARS of education. When I say I am a strong advocate for both special schools, which are schools for disabled children only, and inclusion(inclusion is enabling students with disabilities to attend regular public schools by providing whatever support systems the child needs to succeed in a regular education classroom), people often gasp and say, “You, a staunch proponent of equality, equal access and a fully inclusive society, support special schools! Well, I never!” Ok, maybe the response isn’t quite so dramatic, but the surprise is palpable. Yes, I support the option of multiple school settings because one size does not fit all children, and one size may not even fit the same child for the entire duration of their academic career. Believe me, I know… I was one of those children.
Many are quite surprised when I tell them that I went to Sunbeam School, a school for disabled children, through second grade. When I ask why they are so surprised, they often say that I am so self-confident and independent that they assumed I attended a “regular” school for my entire educational career. I say yes, I am self-confident and independent now, and I am pretty sure that I was born with that spirit. However, developing those skills as a child depends on having people around you who help you hone those skills. While my parents and other adults helped me to hone those skills outside of school, my teachers at Sunbeam reinforced those lessons throughout the school day.