Inclusive Practices, Inclusive Education

In June, we sent this letter to the Highline School Board, Deborah Holcomb, and Dr. Susan Enfield. Today, we received this from Susanne Jerde. We are extremely happy and excited about the work to change our culture in Highline Schools to be one of inclusion. Read on and share!

From: Susanne Jerde
Sent: Monday, August 24, 2015 4:29 PM
To: **Principals and Assistant Principals
Cc: Susan Enfield
Subject: Inclusive Practices

Dear Colleagues,

As we heard from Dr. Enfield and Dr. Martin earlier this month, each and every student should feel and experience the sense of belonging as a general education student first, regardless of additional services and needs. Creating a climate where all students feel a part of the school is the first step as a system in creating an inclusive culture district-wide.  To this end, we have changed our “Student Support Services” department to “Inclusive Education” to support a culture where all students belong.

Ensuring that every student feels membership in a school community is just one of the values and beliefs necessary on the journey towards creating an inclusive culture.   Inclusive practices provide opportunities to learn about and accept individual differences, lessening the impact of harassment and bullying.  As a leader, it is imperative for you to lead and model the way, staying actively engaged in pushing for innovative solutions to barriers that exclude learners from general education settings.

This year, ensuring that all students are part of a general education class and are included in general education learning opportunities (beyond PE and music) is our goal.  This includes having all students with special needs having a name on a posted class list of a general education teacher or general advisory at secondary.  A seat is not defined as just a desk and a nametag (if appropriate), but as opportunities for learning along peers in general education classes.

Supporting teachers in working with students at multiple ability levels, who have emotional and social challenges in their lives is critical. Many of you have focused on developing inclusive practices across your school, with some of the examples below.  While this list is not exhaustive, I share it as a starting place. My ask is that you each reflect on how you can lead a school where all students are included, message inclusion as a part of your school culture, and identify school-wide strategies to support a vision of students learning and participating together.  My hope is that you will share with colleagues your successes in changing beliefs and culture at future convenings.

Inclusive Examples Strategy
No program labels Always refer to a child’s classroom with teacher name and not a label, “They are in Mr. Smith’s room.” vs. “They are in the ILC room.”
Assemblies/ Awards Students are not excluded because of noise, etc.  Work to provide needed accommodations to support if needed.

Students with special needs are included in receiving awards at the school for attendance, academic/social growth.

Provide the option for students receiving supports in EBC, IAM, ILC to sit with general education homerooms at assemblies and lunch time (as it is appropriate for each student)

Clubs Use of peer tutors to support club participation
Cafeteria Students with special needs are not at a corner table, but interspersed among their peers
Field Trips All students included with their general education peers
General Education Classrooms Not a seat in the back of the room, but one where the student is expected to take part in the learning experiences provided in general education.  Students are provided with cubbies, name tags, “space” in their homeroom classroom.  Assign a buddy to those students who may not be in the classroom for the entirety of the day (includes LRC as well!) who will be responsible for sharing any missed information/communication that happens when they are out of the room. Provide time and routines for regular check ins between these students.
Parents Parents/guardians are included in PTA and SLT


Leadership Ensure that all older students are included in rotations for leadership opportunities (lunchroom helpers, conflict managers, etc.) with supports as appropriate
IEPs Principal/AP knows every students’ IEP (Strengths, needs)
Collaboration Staff are given time to work together—gen ed and sped—to collaborate on scaffolding core instruction



Over the next few weeks, your ILED will be discussing with you ways to message and lead this important work with a strong instructional leadership lens.  I look forward to continued conversations about how we can use inclusive practices to truly know every student by name strength and need. 

Here’s to a great start for the 2015-2106 school year,


  Susanne Jerde

    Chief Academic Officer

15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW

Burien, WA 98166

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