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A Child, A Family, A School, A Community

A Tale of Inclusive Education


Diane Linder Berman and David J. Connor

This book is a true story of one family’s journey into inclusive education. Having previously been told that her son Benny had "failed to function" in two exclusionary special education classrooms in New York City, Berman’s family set off in search of a school where Benny would be accepted for who he was, while having the opportunity to grow and flourish academically, socially, and emotionally alongside his brother, Adam. Connor’s interest was piqued when Berman shared her desire to document the ways in which the new school community had supported Benny throughout the years. Together, they thought, surely other teachers, school and district level administrators, parents of children with and without disabilities, teacher educators, and student teachers, could learn from such a success story?

The result of their collaboration is this book in which Berman skillfully narrates episodes across time, describing ways in which children, teachers, educational assistants, parents, and a principal came to know Benny—developing numerous and often creative ways to include him in their classrooms, school, and community. Connor’s commentaries after each chapter link practice to theory, revealing ways in which much of what the school community seems to "do naturally" is, in fact, highly compatible with a Disability Studies in Education (DSE) approach to inclusive education. By illuminating multiple approaches that have worked to include Benny, the authors invite educators and families to envision further possibilities within their own contexts.

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Where Are We Now?

Adam is in grade 6. He is excelling academically and commanding large roles in the school play and chorus concerts. He seeks out moments to shine and handles his responsibilities with grace. Adam does not need to spend too much time on his studies. His school work comes easily to him, and his teacher’s appreciate his wit and humor. Despite beginning the school year in the hospital for complications from his epilepsy, he returned to school to secure a part in the fall play. His ease in social situations is something we all admire and strive for. Adam encouraged Benny, now in grade 8, to try out for the school play as well. They are enjoying one year in school together before Benny leaves for high school in the fall.

Benny graduates middle school as we write the last sentences of this book. He is taking an honors level curriculum because that is what everyone in this school district does. He is in the drama club and the performance chorale. Benny still has a small and loyal group of friends, many from elementary school, but he has made some new ones as well. He is a handsome young man with a mysterious air that draws others to him. Benny’s sincerity and dedication to his friends, family and responsibility make him stand out to his peers and teachers. ← 241 | 242 →

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