A Grade 3/4 teacher at Walton elementary school in Coquitlam was shocked to learn she is being honoured for a teaching style she has used for nearly 25 years.
Kyme Wegrich will be presented with a 2018 National Inclusive Education Award this week by Inclusion BC and the Family Support Institute of B.C. for providing inclusive learning opportunities for students with special needs.
Wegrich says there is nothing special about her teaching method that recognizes diversity and encourages all students to learn, play and grow in a supportive, comfortable environment.
“I think it’s something I’ve always done, I don’t see as being out of the ordinary, that’s why I was so shocked,” said Wegrich, who said she prefers to teach to all levels and abilities, rather than just the “middle.”
“I try to meet the child where they are,” said Wegrich.
In her class, for example, soft lighting has been hung to create a calming environment, students can choose from a variety of seating options, including standing tables, seats that rock back and forth and exercise balls to accommodate some children’s need to move.
Instead of teaching a single lesson, Wegrich arranges the students into groups, depending on their level of understanding of a particular unit or subject, and rotates them through the lesson. When they aren’t working with her at the smart board, the group will do their work or play a game that helps reinforce the lesson.
With the support of an education assistant and a resource teacher, Kyme ensures that her class meets the needs of all students, including a girl with autism, who is popular, as evidenced at how happy her peers are to play games with her.
In one game called Garbage, the students changed the format so their friend could easily join in.
Wegrich said children don’t see see a problem with people who are different and she hopes they grow up to be more empathetic and compassionate adults.
What is inclusive education?
According to Inclusion BC, inclusive education means that all students attend and are welcomed by their neighbourhood schools in age appropriate, regular classes and are supported to learn, contribute and participate in all aspects of the life of the school. They may work on individual goals with other students their own age while developing their own strengths and gifts in a school culture that provides opportunities to learn about and accept individual differences, lessening the impact of harassment and bullying.