Why We Wrote This Book
“Inclusion Practices for the Early Childhood Educator” is the vision of Margaret Holland and her daughter Courtney Nolan, an early childhood special education teacher which has been implemented in their “Butterfly Room” classroom located within the Harbour Pointe Montessori Early Learning Center in Mukilteo, WA. This program was created in 2007, and after success within both typically developing children and children with varying special needs, this guide was created. This program and guide was created to meet a need for families that desire socialization, a sense of community, and educational services for their families and children in a community-based program with a special education teacher and other highly-qualified staff. This manual was therefore created to provide information to those families and providers desiring more information about the inclusion of children with special needs into their current educational system, information about the Special Education System and Process as a whole, information about the Montessori Philosophy of Education, and various teaching techniques deemed as best practices in education. While we are aware many programs already include children with special needs, we realize that many may need additional strategies and support to do so in the most efficient manner.
The above video is from the King 5 News segment entitled “Learning for Life” which featured our program,
“The Butterfly Room." Please visit King 5 News online to view the complete article: http://www.king5.com/news/local/60834447.html
“My Path to Special Education” From Courtney
First and foremost I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in the strategies listed within this manual. I have devoted my time, energy, and love of working with children with special needs and am extremely passionate about quality care and education for all. All children including those with special needs deserve the right to the best education possible, allowing them to reach their full human potential within their local community. It is only through this inclusive philosophy that we can hope that our communities and children will be more tolerant, loving, and accepting of the differences within us all. I was brought into the field of special education long ago by having family members with disabilities. My brother Noah, who know now is without a doubt my rock and best friend, had a difficult path to follow, having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) long before many in the field of education knew what that was. He was simply labeled as a child who didn’t try, was disruptive, and often left feeling stupid within the school programs, something all that knew him were aware was completely false. After years of struggle with various principals,vice principals, and teachers, it was my parent’s fight and demand that those in education be educated themselves on this disorder. With the help of one amazing vice principal, my mother was able to obtain a district-wide training on ADD, the first of its kind in our county. It was through watching my brother and parent’s struggle with the education system as a whole that brought me into this field. My brother, an amazing artist and kind hearted person who overcame so much adversity and difficulty…the round peg in the square hole…to be the successful amazing person he is today. I dedicate this manual to my entire family, my amazing sister Alicea, my loving brother Noah, and my incredibly generous parents Fred and Margaret, who taught me how to fight for what is right and those you love.
“My Path to Inclusive Education” From Margaret
Over my last 35 years in Early Childhood Education the diagnosis and practices of educating children with special needs has risen dramatically. With that rise has also come the focus of importance on recognizing the symptoms, causes and need for early intervention.It is always been sensible to me to integrate the Montessori philosophy and materials with the tools available in special education. When I began teaching in 1976 there were children who learned differently. The Montessori method has always recognized that children are individuals first and their development is an individual journey. The main philosophy of Harbour Pointe Montessori is to provide a positive, wonderful, nurturing environment for children to learn and grow at their own individual rate of development. We create a place where the school becomes an extension of the families we serve. We also create a family-school connection where we support families in the often difficult job of parenting. Margaret Mead once said the downfall of western civilization is the mobility of our families. We establish a relationship which is one of a school family. We realize that we are often the child’s first experience with some type of formalized education which influences how each child feels about themselves as an individual learner, how they socialize with others in their environment, and the concept of “school” that will be carried with them for many years to come and possibly forever. This reinforces the importance of early intervention and inclusion practices. We as teachers are truly blessed as we are able to view the world from a child’s perspective. I often tell people I have the best job in the world. I laugh every day. I get to give and receive hugs every day, and truly feel that I am making a difference in a child’s life and the future of the world. What more could you ask for? I would like to thank my past instructors, co-workers, as well as the children and families I have worked with over the years for all that they have taught me. I would also like to thank my husband, Fred who 40 years ago said, “What I do in the world doesn’t make a difference but what you do does, so I am here to help you in any way I can.” Lastly, I would like to thank my daughter Courtney who shares this passion with me and proves that together we can make a difference.