Durango School District 9-R educators will be attending Inclusive Schooling virtual training in the coming weeks.
They will take part in said training on Sept. 18.
Inclusive Schooling partners with school districts around the world to promote professional development in inclusive education.
The decision to pursue this collaboration with Inclusive Schooling was made after a Special Education Case Study was conducted during the spring of 2023. The study revealed that general education, special education teachers and paraprofessionals all were interested in learning more about inclusive education.
“The session helps staff understand the benefits of inclusion for our students with disabilities. The session focuses on seeing disability as diversity, which invites us to embrace each student's unique characteristics and strengths,” said Vanessa Giddings, Executive Director of Student Support Services.
According to Giddings, about 16% of the district’s students are on Individualized Education Programs. IEPs are plans or programs developed to ensure a child with an identified disability and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services.
The district’s 16% is higher than the national and state averages, which range between 10% and 12%. Additionally, about 4 % of 9-R students have English language development plans, while 4% of students have 504 plans, and 8% of students have advanced learning plans.
The training will provide the district’s staff with an overview of inclusive practices for students of different backgrounds and learning disabilities, and it will include best practices and effective co-teaching models.
“The session focuses on seeing disability as diversity, which invites us to embrace each student's unique characteristics and strengths,” Giddings said.
The training is part of the district’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, which it strongly started emphasizing during the 2022-2023 school year. Some of these instances included having multiple cultural events for Indigenous Peoples’ Day, adding Native American curriculum to physical education classes and Escuala Para Padres, which sought to help keep Spanish speaking parents updated on what’s going on with 9-R.
“Our commitment to fostering an inclusive environment demands that we stay at the forefront of educational practices. We believe all students should come to safe, welcoming, and inclusive schools where each learner is valued and successful,” Giddings said.