PARENT TESTIMONY REGARDING OUR INCLUSIVE MODEL FOR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
As our time ends with Calhoun Christian School, we both felt it incredibly important to take the time to communicate how phenomenal our experience was with Calhoun Christian School.
I appreciated everyone’s diligence and work in going above and beyond to make the inclusion program possible. This program provided our daughter the individual attention she often required, and we are so grateful for the team of teachers and administrators that felt called to make the program happen.
We came to the school due to our child’s needs and found a family of people ready and willing to shape our daughter. It is incredibly refreshing to hear and see people not just work to grow our child academically, but spiritually as well. I felt like everyone “saw” her – her gifts, her positive attitude and loving heart. We have seen a change in our child this year and we want to thank for all you have done to grow her mind and spirit this year. From her inclusion specialist, aides and teachers, all have made a difference in Noelle’s life. Every day we went into the school I witnessed her teacher and aides giving the very best of themselves. I cannot share the appreciation I have for Mrs. Dunakin and how grateful we are that our child could experience the marvel of having her as her teacher.
I cannot end this letter without recognizing the progress Noelle has made this year. She truly thrived throughout the school year and it shows in all her evaluations. She was barely speaking and far behind on her language skills when she first enrolled. She is now ending the year speaking in full sentences and has been graduated from speech therapy at the regional hospital she obtains services from. I know this is a direct result of the inclusion atmosphere and being able to learn in a classroom of her peers. Noelle has also grown in her confidence and has a joy and love for school and God! What an amazing experience it has been to see this change in her throughout the year.
Calhoun Christian School has a large piece of our heart and we will continue to pray for the school and its teachers, as well as donate to the school when we are able. This program is life changing for many, us included and we want to see it continue to succeed.
From two very grateful parents,
Kevin & Alissa Maul
EXPLANATION OF THE INCLUSIVE MODEL OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
Calhoun Christian School recognizes that children are a gift from God and are unique individuals created in His image. Therefore, all children are valuable to us. Not all children learn the same and some children have special needs that make learning more difficult for them. It is our aim to help these children overcome the obstacles that hinder their learning and to provide them with the tools necessary to be successful as a student at CCS. All children have value in God's eyes, so we will take every opportunity to encourage them and help them to feel part of their classes.
Beginning in the fall of 2018, we launched an inclusive model of Christian education for qualifying students in PreK through 12th grade. An inclusive model provides services and support for students with unique needs, as well as students with mild to moderate physical, cognitive and/or emotional challenges. These students will spend the majority of their time in the general education classroom with other students in their grades. However, they will also have a Educational Support Specialist and a Para-educator who works with them in order to provide additional, specific services. Our inclusive education classroom is being modeled after the highly successful program at Zeeland Christian School. We are working with All Belong as we build a program that includes all of God's children.
These students will be a tremendous blessing to our school community. Not only will we be able to provide these students with a high quality, Christ-centered education; they will provide all of our students with the opportunity to practice living out their faith as they daily interact with students whom God has uniquely gifted.
While we recognize that we may not be able to accommodate all children with special needs, every effort will be made to provide an honest assessment of their learning needs and identify ways in which we can (or can learn to) help. For students performing above or below grade level an academic accommodation plan should be entered into between the teacher and the parents on behalf of the students. Also, while we recognize that this individualized intervention plan is not an official IEP, we commit to providing this opportunity for any child who demonstrates a need. As a board, administration, and staff, we will model a Christ-like attitude toward children with special needs which we believe will filter down to the parents and students in the school.
In addition, Calhoun Christian School works with the Calhoun Intermediate School District (CISD) to provide students with some special education services. Through the CISD we are able to provide speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, school social work, and teacher consultant services. These services are only available through the IEP process and are written as a Service Plan for CCS students.
Calhoun Christian School is committed to meeting the academic needs of our students.
BIBLICAL BASIS FOR OUR INCLUSIVE MODEL OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
All Belong provided us with a book titled "Any Questions: A Guidebook for Inclusive Education" by Barbara Newman. The following is her answer to the question "Is there a Biblical basis for inclusion?".
"The most compelling reason to launch an inclusion program is the Biblical support for developing an inclusive community. After reviewing passages about the body of Christ in 1 Corinthians 12 and passages about accepting others in Romans 15, it becomes clear that God intends for us to live together as an integrated body of believers.
But why, might you ask, does God consider it so important for us to live in inclusive community? We often enjoy the company of peers who are like us. Sometimes differences make us uncomfortable. Is inclusion really so important in God's vision that we alter our educational system to accommodate those with differences in our schools? YES! Where better to become comfortable with the beauty of God's diversity and our responsibility to incorporate it into our lives than as a young child at school.
One of the reasons we are asked to function as one body, recognizing God's image in those around us and celebrating these differences, is that my times there ar lessons to learn from one another. We would contend that those who deny themselves the chance to be around those with disabilities are missing out on many opportunities from God."
INCLUSION SUPPORT STAFF
BS from Andrews University