A Journey to Inclusion: From the Inside Out

With an increased emphasis to include special needs students within the general education classroom to learn and participate alongside their peers, there is a growing demand to not only explore best inclusion strategies but to find practical ways to implement them at diverse school sites. Yet there is more to inclusion for students with disabilities than just their physical presence in the classroom. They must be taught and nurtured alongside their general education peers while being provided with a balanced and appropriate curriculum. The challenge for schools is to find ways to accommodate all learners and their individual needs, while addressing distinctive site traits. At one Northern San Diego County school site located on a military base, different methods were explored to develop consistent strategies that benefited not only students with mild and moderate disabilities, but for all students in the classroom. This case study chronicles a school’s three-year journey exploring and developing various inclusion programs and best practices strategies that were implemented as creative classroom practices to service students with special education needs. This program effectively bridged strategies that worked for one grade level into another grade level with respect to different teaching teams and philosophies, while addressing the real-life stressors for students with one or parent who (a) is active military and often deployed for long-periods of time, (b) live with Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD), (c) have been wounded, or (d) have perished in service to the country.