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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

Cascade Educational Consultants is an educational consulting firm committed to high-quality equitable teaching, learning and serving environments for all students to succeed in school and in life. Click here to learn more about our services...




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Looking Back, Looking Good and Looking Forward

LOOKING BACK-2
After 49 years, I recently had the opportunity of returning to my old high school in Chandler, Arizona.

Many things seemed to have remained the same. The building appearance, the familiar courtyard in the center of the school, similar bulletin boards and similar class schedules.

Some things were no longer there, for example the catwalk that once connected the buildings, the large auditorium at the center of the school and the small parking lot next door.

I saw many enhancements: a new gymnasium, a new cafeteria, a new technology center, new faculty and leaders, a new safety system and new resources. Most of those elements are components common to high schools in 2013.

What was most compelling to me as I engaged with special education students, teachers and a parent of a student with special needs was the sense of inclusiveness. Everyone counts, everyone matters and everyone is encouraged to be engaged.

Chandler High School has integrated social inclusiveness through unified sports, leadership courses, student council, student clubs, assemblies and Chandler Buddies. All focused on engaging special and general education students in meaningful activities.

When I asked the parent of a special needs student what is different about this high school her response was there is no stigma attached to students, all students are accepted because the school is inclusive, ensuring participation and providing students opportunities to show their unique strengths.

When I asked two students how being included in unified sports programs impacts them they indicated that it makes them healthy, it provides an opportunity to make friends and it allows them to achieve team goals.

A teacher indicated that students engaged in socially inclusive activities such as leadership class, Chandler Buddies and/or unified sports learn teambuilding and their responsibilities as team members – skills they utilize throughout and beyond school.

When I looked back on my high school education I recall a mixed set of positive and challenging experiences. When I explore my old high school today, I am proud of the comprehensive nature of social inclusiveness and the courage teachers have to recognize the unique gifts of each student. When I think of the future that will be led by these young people I am confident in their knowledge, skills and dispositions to make great decisions for themselves as they focus on the common good.

About the author: Terry Pickeral, president Cascade Educational Consultants has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. His commitment is to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens.
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