Receives Award For Inclusion
John Counts, Canton Eagle, May 13, 2005
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No one gets left
out in Pam Morgan’s classroom.
The Bird Elementary teacher was recently awarded ‘Teacher of the
Year’ by the Arc of Northwest Wayne County because of the way
she has promoted the concept of ‘inclusion’ in her first-grade
class of 23 students.
“I believe in getting all types of students in the general
classroom,” Morgan said.
This includes students with developmental or learning
disabilities. The first-grade teacher said that she has believed
in keeping all students together for the 25 years she’s been
“It enriches the classroom environment and strengthens the
relationship between students and staff,” she said.
Morgan, who has never received any type of award for her
endeavors before she was honored by Arc, said she was pleased
when she was notified.
“It validated my belief that the inclusion model is powerful and
can work successfully in a general classroom,’ Morgan said.
“Diversity can be celebrated in all different ways. Children of
all ages should be aware of this. Inclusion teaches kindness and
caring. It shows that there are many different ways to learn.”
Morgan got her bachelor’s from Michigan State University and
master’s at Eastern Michigan. She said she hopes to begin a
doctoral program at Eastern with the aim of working more on the
inclusion model. When she retires, she would like to be able to
incorporate her work in other schools as a consultant.
“It’s always been my passion to do something like that after my
retirement,” she said.
The Arc award covers school districts all over western Wayne
County, including Garden City, Redford, Livonia, Plymouth and
Northville. The Arc is an advocacy group that helps people with
developmental disabilities. Its mission for the past 44 years
has been to bring people together, according to Executive
Director Christine Lerchen.
She said Morgan has done an excellent job of doing this in the
classroom, despite some of the challenges a teacher faces when
integrating students with special needs in with the general
“Having a child with special needs in your class, you have to be
creative,” Lerchen said, adding that it requires the teacher to
have to work with other education professionals. “It takes
someone with an open mind.”
Both Morgan and Lerchen agree that the benefits are worth the
challenge, though. Lerchen said the inclusion model allows for
students with special needs to attend classes with other
children from their neighborhood, instead of being shipped off
to a specialized school in another area.
“It allows the child to attend their community school,” Morgan
Lerchan said Morgan handles the challenges of the inclusion
“Someone like Pam makes it look easy,” she said.
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