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Article of Interest - Inclusion

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Teacher 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 teaching.

“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 student population.
“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 said.

Lerchan said Morgan handles the challenges of the inclusion effortlessly.

“Someone like Pam makes it look easy,” she said.


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