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Springfield Heights honoured for innovation

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Springfield Heights School is taking a progressive approach to making sure all students have the opportunity to perform their best in the classroom.

The North Kildonan school, located at 505 Sharron Bay, was honoured with a Yes I Can! Award from the Manitoba Council for Exceptional Children at its banquet in February for the work of its resource/admin team.

The school’s resource teachers explained programs are designed so that all students, not just the ones who expressly need them, can benefit.

"We have some kids that have laptops that have specialized programs so they can look like they’re typing like any other kid, but it would be with prompts to help them with their word formation, prompts to help them to be able to read," said Kelly McLellan-Page.

"We give them to other students in the class so it looks very inclusive, so that the children that just need it aren’t the only ones using it," added Alison Kuran. "We encourage everyone to use them."

Other examples of new technology in the classroom include the move-and-sit cushion for students who have trouble sitting, fidget toys to help focus, headphones to eliminate white noise, and desk shields to remove peripheral distractions. Karen Boily noted if one student needs an item like a cushion or fidget toy, the class will be given extra so the student doesn’t feel singled out.

Principal Mario Beauchamp said there are numerous ways the team works to help students.

"We constantly try to find better ways of working with kids, more efficient ways of working with kids, so that we’re reaching them in unique and innovative ways," said Beauchamp, noting the team’s student services clinical unit includes psychology, social work, speech and language, reading and occupational therapy experts.

"The classroom teacher is the No. 1 conduit, because that’s the person at the classroom level with kids, and we rally around the classroom teacher to support the kids in his or her classroom."

The school’s student services team has worked alongside Beauchamp since he took over as principal five years ago, which means it has been able to gel and develop.

"The nice thing about some of our resource team (members) is that they’ve been in the building as former classroom teachers and they’ve also been former reading recovery teachers," he said, noting all team members have previously been classroom or reading recovery teachers. "They have a clear knowledge of the needs of the building and the needs of the children and the families in the school."

Beauchamp stressed constant communication is vital, as team members are in touch throughout the school day instead of exclusively at meetings. In addition, the team profiles each class at the beginning of the year to try to help determine needed supports, meeting with teachers regularly to monitor progress.

"This team is always striving to do better work, and maximize the time with kids during the day," said Beauchamp. "(We try) to bridge those gaps whether they’re academic gaps or social-emotional issues to have an impact on more kids every year we work with them."

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