It is with great pride when I say that I teach at the most diverse middle school in Vermont. The many cultures enrich the lives of Edmunds Middle School students and teach them a tolerance that makes them more than just "tolerant." My students are welcoming and do not hesitate to help classmates who might be struggling with a new language. They learn to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual. This learning goes far beyond the school curriculum.
But there is a missed opportunity to add to this diversity and a missed learning opportunity when we do not address the obstacles that would prevent my students from welcoming individuals with physical limitations into our school. While perhaps unintended, when we do not find the means to allow all individuals to have equal access to our school, there is an implicit message conveyed... that some individuals are worth more than others. Certainly, this is not a lesson we want to teach.
I write not only as a teacher, but also as a parent. My son Ethan passed away in 2005. Had Ethan survived, in all likelihood, he would have needed a wheelchair. Throughout Ethan's life, our community school played a vital role for my family. During critical times in Ethan's illness, the school provided ongoing support to my family and ensured that the needs of my daughters were well taken care of. Had Ethan thrived and become an active member of our community, I cannot imagine if he would have been prevented from attending the same school as my daughters, the school that had been such an important part of my family's life.
Friday, April 24, 2009
An Edmunds Teacher's Voice
Edmunds Middle School teacher, Rich Boyers, just shared this heartfelt message with his neighbors via Front Porch Forum...