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A Child, A Family, A School, A Community

A Tale of Inclusive Education

Series:

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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Chapter 10. Extraordinary Extra Curriculars

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· 10 ·

EXTRAORDINARY EXTRA CURRICULARS

I walk down the block to pick up my boys and am aware of something different in the air. I feel the beat first with my feet and then my ears. I see that the doors to the yard are open wide and can hear children singing and cheering from their classrooms, poking their heads out of the doors and windows. The music is familiar, “Believe it Not,” the theme from the TV series The Greatest American Hero, and we hear strains of being able to walk on air. Suddenly, Captain Boulder flies out, arms stretched for balance, cape billowing behind him, tiny tight yellow shorts, glowing skin—a superhero principal from top to bottom.

Clark’s face is open and bright until his smile creates strong dark lines which overlap and crisscross like wires connecting his features, the electric current passing from his lips then to his eyes, where it flickers for a moment until it takes off once again and resettles in his cheeks, creating a pattern of lights across his features. He is riding on a cart created, in part, with padding from the gym floor. Fueling his fantasy is three of his male staff, a grade 5 teacher, the gym teacher, and a reading specialist. They flank him on three sides for support as well as to tip him from his perch when mid flight they fear his ego gets too large. He...

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