Tuesday, September 14, 2010

School for All

A recent post by @gcouros about Emily reminded me of a time when serving as a High School Principal. We recently implemented an advisory program to help increase student achievement, create a sense of belonging and build community in a school experiencing significant demographic change. During that advisory it became evident that the school had not embraced diversity. Enter Meghan.

Meghan was a student with a visual impairment. A strong personality to say the least. In response to a Math assignment where students were to write a letter to the principal - me - Meghan penned a letter that changed me. Meghan wrote about her challenges in our hallways. Yes, I said Math assignment. The letter talked about the lack of signage to help her find rooms, students who were treating her poorly and a general sense of being disconnected. She talked in her letter about having her visual impairment cane being taken from her by students. The letter spoke so loudly we had it read by a student in every advisory. The beginning of change!

With one letter, Meghan changed our school. She brought awareness to the diversity in our school and the need to have Schools for All. The attitudes and perceptions of our school and greater community began to change. But Meghan was not done yet.

A year later Meghan and her mother approached us about having a service dog during the school day. She challenged our entire district to re-write policy and procedure to make schools for all a reality.

Over the years Meghan stayed in touch. She went on to the flagship university in Wisconsin and will most certainly change the world. Our schools are better places thanks to the Meghans and Emilys of the world.

Thanks Meghan!

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