Partners In Inclusion
Ashley Phillips & Colleen Malcolm are teachers at The Bright Horizons @ Imperial Center, a preschool in Durham that enrolls children with and without disabilities.
We recently talked with Ashley and Colleen about their experience with the Partners In Inclusion program (formerly called the Durham Inclusion Support Services program) at Community Partnerships.
How did you first become involved in the Durham Inclusion Support Services program at Community Partnerships?
Ashley: I had a child in my class who was diagnosed with sensory integration issues. The child’s family signed up for the program and Anna Berkeley was his assigned therapist.
What were some of the specific services you received? What was your impression of the program’s approach and recommendations?
Ashley: The Durham Inclusion Support Services program and Anna Berkeley provided us with the support, encouragement, and techniques we needed in order to help children in our classroom with disabilities. She has helped promote social and educational development – not only for the child with the disability but also in us, the teachers.
Anna would come and observe the child with a disability, watch us as we interacted with that child, and give us pointers, feedback and wonderful techniques for us to incorporate into the classroom.
What was it like having a consultant in your classroom? How did the children respond?
Colleen: Anna was very easy to work with. She came into our classroom quietly so as not to disrupt what we were doing, then observed for a while. Anna has a calm way about her, so all of the children in the class responded well to her. I was not embarrassed to have her observe me teaching in my room – not afraid that she would be critical of me and how I handled situations that came up. She made suggestions in a way that was easy to accept.
How, if at all, has the Durham Inclusion Support Services program enhanced your classroom – not just for children with disabilities, but for all of the children?
Colleen: Since working with Anna, I feel more confident working with children with special needs. Not having a Special Education background, I felt unprepared and a little nervous, to be honest, teaching children with disabilities. Since working with Anna I feel much more confident and prepared.
Ashley: We have learned many new strategies and interventions through working with the Durham Inclusion Support Services program. We have already incorporated some of those strategies with the children in our classroom – all of them, including a new child who is in the process of being evaluated for a disability!