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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 15. Graduating Boulder

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· 15 ·

GRADUATING BOULDER

Today we walk from the train station back to school after an orthodontist appointment. Benny does not want to go back to school. He says to me, “Nobody, and I mean nobody comes back to school after leaving early.” I ignore his words and we walk on. “Oops, I was just bitten by a dog he says with a smile.” “I do not even see a dog,” I say. He looks up and tells me “I was actually bitten by a ghost.” Then we pass a small dog. Benny looks up and adds, “And now that dog bit me.” Then he coughs and tells me he is sick, very sick. I finally give in and tell him he can stay home the rest of the day. We can walk the long way home and have a leisurely snack before picking up Adam. Then he tenses up, “No, I have to go to school, what would we tell my teacher if I stayed out the whole day?” I say to him we could tell his teacher that two dogs and a ghost bit him. Benny starts to cry, “No, no then he might think I am lying.” Tears form and he looks up at me and tells me that he was in fact lying, is that terrible? “No, Benny not terrible at all.” He has become such a fascinating blend. A few minutes later he asks me to pretend that...

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