M.E. LaZerte High School: Programming for Success

Uploaded by edpublicschools on 22.10.2012

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(Kathy Muhlethaler) I believe at ME LaZerte we've been doing
inclusive education for years.
And not because it's been a policy but because it's a belief
that we have about what's right for kids.
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And the way we've organized our school with regards to the
incredible leadership program that we offer, our school wide
assessment plan, our involvement in flexibility enhancement
project, the work that we do with students with,
that are at risk, students with special needs.
I believe we really take good care of our students and
ensure that ME LaZerte is a very safe place to come.
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(Teacher) let's go.
(Lucy Cornwall-Thomas) At ME LaZerte we have a population
of about 2000 students. About 250 are coded special needs.
We also have about 400 ELL students that are identified.
(Brenda Mulder) ME LaZerte is a very exciting school to be part
of because it is so diverse. We have students from many
different ethnic backgrounds and who speak different
languages, who have different talents and interests.
(Kathy) The flexibility and enhancement project has allowed
us to be more creative in terms of well let's offer an intensive
course and have a student write a diploma in November,
have them write a diploma in April.
And so just being more creative in what we can offer students.
(Joe Garreck) We get a lot of grade tens come in that have
learned helplessness. They've struggled all way through
school and they've come to us knowing they're going to fail.
They've spent nine years failing and this is just going to be
another year of failure. And so we spend, you know,
a good month showing them that with the right tools and
the right strategies they can be successful and they
can learn and they can continue and do well in school.
(Mark Nider) And then we try to group the kids into a
homogenized group so they're at similar learning levels and it
makes it a lot easier for us as we go along
and for the kids to be together with that.
(Joe) We'll always end up with a group that
with the proper supports can challenge a diploma.
And then we'll have a regular K&E group that are solid K&E.
And then we have had some years where we've actually had some
kids that are lower than K&E and really need a non-graded
curriculum and we've actually created a class after school has
started because those kids need special attention.
And then we constantly monitor it.
And if we have a student that's in the K&E grouping that is
proving that ok, maybe we've misplaced this student,
we can move them up to the diploma grouping just
simply because we work together and because it's all
time tabled at the same time, it's easy for us to be
able to switch students back and forth if need be.
(Erin Niawchuk) We all see the kids.
So they see all of us throughout the year and that consistency
for them is key that they get to know us really, really well.
We get to know them really, really well and learn what their
needs are throughout the course of the year instead of only
having this particular teacher for one semester and just as
soon as you get used to them and by January you're moving on.
We keep the kids for a full year.
And just that consistency really allows us to build
those kinds of relationships with the students that
is really, really effective with getting those kids
completing their program at the high school level.
(teacher) ...open up your rocket animation.
(Mark) Kids that have learned helplessness that come in grade
ten that nobody ever thought that they could write an essay
or finish high school, they come in a K&E class from dash four
and then in three years walk out with a diploma and shake our
hands and say "Thank you very much." And then you see them
on the street and that's, you can't put a price on that.
(Austin) The teachers offer a lot of support and I really
like the fact that they offer me certain courses
that I can take so I can earn higher goals.
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(Kathy) We opened an academic support centre.
So if a student needs an accommodation such as a reader
for an assessment, then the academic support centre will
provide that type of accommodation. And that also
includes things like the extra time, they may need to use
a computer, and so that's all available to students as well.
Academic support centre is open four blocks a day, all day long.
We have students that are coded special needs, coded ELL.
We have regular students that come into academic support.
Students can come down spontaneously, teachers can call
and book students in. If this program wasn't here I think
that a lot of the students would fall through the cracks, they
wouldn't have that support. They might not complete high school.
So I think that this is a great support for students, especially
at this point, at high school when it really, really counts.
Just because they're, they need a little help getting through
high school and through that post secondary institution, it
doesn't mean that they wouldn't be fantastic after
they got their degrees, you know, at that job.
Yeah, I do better just because I take my time and
I do get extra time to work on it and just take my time slowly.
Well it just gives me an isolated space.
I get distracted very easily with anyone around me and it's
like I like to watch what they're doing instead of
what I'm doing. And I just don't accomplish anything.
I usually need extra time with English and Social with usually
those two courses. The mathematics I'm good but I
still prefer extra time because I'm the type of person who
takes time on exams and when I get stuck with a question
I don't just move on, I struggle with it for a while.
I probably wouldn't be getting 80s in my courses.
I'd probably be getting more like 60s.
My main job is to make sure that any student in this school that
has special needs is getting what they need to be as
successful as possible. We have approximately 160 students
with Individual Program Plans. So those are the majority
of the time I spend with are with those students.
We have many educational assistants that support whole
classes as well as individual or small groups of students.
Our EAs have tremendous gifts and talents and I want them to
be exposed to as many students as possible.
It's better for the students as well because as they move into
adulthood they're going to be meeting different adults every
day and so they need to have different relationships and
learn how to work with different personalities and it
also helps them practice their self advocacy skills.
(Kathy) The interactions program is students with autism.
We have about 14 students in that program including five
Educational Assistants and a teacher as well.
They come with varying degrees of autism and some of our
students are actually integrated for some of their courses.
(Amy) Picture of an airplane.
(woman) Airplane.
(Kathy) Amy is a student with autism.
She came to us from one of our feeder junior highs.
She started off with us on a part time basis.
So she was part time in homebound instruction
and then part time taking options with us.
She is not in the Interactions program, the parents wanted
their daughter to be fully integrated and have that high
school experience so she goes to a foods classroom,
she's in an English class, she's in an art class.
And you know that makes me very proud to be the
principal of ME LaZerte to show that we also have
students with special needs that can enjoy and
participate in so many aspects of high school life.
(Dolores Snaychuk) I work with her in art and I work
with her cosmetology. So right now we're working
on a means of communication for her like through a tablet.
Her speech is limited, however her understanding is quite high.
(Amy) Tiger.
(Dolores) Good.
(Lisa) Uh, she's a tremendous artist.
And we would have never have known that unless we had spoken
to her parents and seen what Amy can do art.
It makes me smile when the Education Assistant looks
at Amy's sketch book and her sketch book and goes
"I can't figure out who's is who's"
because Amy is such a tremendous artist, so.
It's just such a warm feeling to know that she's safe in that
classroom, she knows she's safe in that classroom.
She's really quite confident in her own way because she's so
bouncy in a good way, like in a happy way.
(EA) Amy, high five for Mrs. Savella.
(Teacher) Good job, Amy.
(Kathy) Dad has been extremely supportive and happy with the
programming for Amy. He was asking if Amy could
stay for a fourth year. It's the best place for her.
So Amy's going to come back for a fourth year and take more
courses and be involved more in the school.
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(Brenda) We've had an exciting journey in assessment at our
school. For the last 10 or 20 years there's been some really
exciting research coming out about assessment in education
and we at ME LaZerte have challenged ourselves with taking
those ideas and seeing how we can apply them and make them
work at our school.
(Kathy) We took our staff through a process that's been
now a four year process around looking at those practices
that distort achievement. Looking at our summit of
assessment practices and now for the last two years
we've been focusing on assessment for learning.
So things like engaging students in classroom discussions,
the questioning techniques, the self assessment and
peer assessment, assuring and stating learner outcomes
with students. So we spend a lot of time on
those pieces as well over the last two years and we have
found that it's made such a substantial difference
in students being successful in their courses.
(teacher) It's been very exciting to see teachers take
risks and take chances with trying something new.
This is a very different way of looking at things.
And so it's a different way to talk to students about
assessments, it's a different way to talk to students about
why are we doing this and how are you going to be marked.
And so teachers have been willing to try something new
and then it's just opened up a world of possibilities.
(Lucy) When we're talking about inclusion, we're talking about
all kids. At ME LaZerte we have an inclusive culture.
Students who would have normally been in segregated programs,
special needs programs, segregated from the rest of the
population are now being included in the regular
classrooms, included in regular activities, included with the
rest of the students in the school.
They are succeeding, they are moving on to post secondary.
It's just wonderful. They have that opportunity
whereas maybe they wouldn't have had it before.
(Kathy) You know one size doesn't fit all for students.
And so we have to look at these students individually and see
how we can help them reach their full potential.
Being able to have that flexibility to be able to
program for them differently.
(Harley) Safety rule first, safety never takes a holiday.
That's why you got to make sure you pull out
the plug before you start.
(Kathy) There's a particular student, Harley, in there and
he is a higher functioning student with autism in the
fact that his vocabulary is amazing, he's got the most
incredible sense of humour. He's just an amazing kid.
(Samantha) He's a really nice guy.
You can get along with him very easily. And we walk around
the halls, like putting posters up for different events.
Uh, we could be sorting something from school wear to
papers, it doesn't matter.
My goal for Harley, because of the age that he is, was to give
him experiences if he was in a working situation.
(Lisa) So then we met with the teacher and the EA in
interaction what could this look like and what supports does
Harley need to be successful.
And one of the things he wanted to try was working in the
cafeteria because he's interested in gaining more
employable skills that he can use outside of high school.
So we talked with our cafeteria staff and they were wonderful,
they were excited to have somebody who was interested and
excited about working in the cafeteria.
My student counsellor called me into the office one day and
she said "How would you like to work in the cafeteria?"
I said "Fantastic."
This is the second year I've had Harley in my class.
Uh, we make a special program for Harley.
Harley is an exceptional student. He has some very
good abilities and he will work well in a kitchen.
(Harley) Put around the edges so they don't dry out.
Too much cheese falls off as it's being baked in the oven.
(Debbie) He maintains the stock in the coolers.
He is the pizza king. He does the burgers now and
he is, I just trained him two weeks ago to do the slicer.
And he does it better than I have kids that are in here every
day in Commercial Foods that are not special needs kids.
It's important that he learns some life skills from, from all
of us. Because you know what, he's going to be part of our
society and if he doesn't have anything to take out of here,
we didn't really do our job.
(Lisa) He's helping hang posters and putting up information and
he's part of the discussions for planning and what do you need
and he adds so much to it and you feel so valued that it's,
he actually feels bad when he thinks that he may not be part
of it because something, maybe his attention is needed
elsewhere in Interactions. He's like 'No, I can't go on that
field trip with you guys, I am needed in Leadership that day."
Or "It is pizza day, I am the pizza king. I'm sorry,
I can't go with you guys, I have responsibilities
in the cafeteria." So it's been such a great
learning experience for everybody
and he's just such a valued member of the school.
He's also involved in our leadership program in setting
up different activities throughout the school.
(Kathy) We have an incredible leadership program.
When you look at our composition of students that are in
leadership, we've got international baccalaureate
students, we've have students with autism in that program.
It's very multicultural, it's just really is a true
representation of what ME LaZerte is all about.
There's so much to do here and like all the staff and
everything, students, everyone's really welcoming.
And also we're really diverse.
I love the atmosphere here.
And I feel like I'm a part of the school.
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ME LaZerte is a good school because it brings in kids with
disabilities and abilities and kids that, with different
cultures and every kind of person that you can imagine.
(Kathy) We have a cultural day, it's called Taste of LaZerte
and we have students from a variety of ethnic backgrounds
that bring ethnic food and we have performances.
We're all inclusive when it comes to culture and here's
a chance for us a celebrate as a school your culture.
(Student) Can't get anything better than this.
(Lisa) And what it is, is for our ME LaZerte students to show
off their culture, their food, their entertainment.
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It's a time for them to celebrate where they're from and
to celebrate to their friends and show their friends.
They work really hard. I have kids coming after school
in my room every single day practicing their dancing.
(Lisa) And these kids, you can just see today they walk around
a little taller. And with you know, their chests kind of
puffed out with their flags and their traditional dress.
And they're just so proud to show it off and answer questions
and tell us about their culture.
(Kathy) And it's a true testament of how we are so
successful at really existing together as one family.
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(Shelley Kofluk) Well this is the student's union room,
or student leadership room.
And this is the room where everything happens for the
school events for student activities.
Basically what they do is they will engage the rest of the
student body around that activity.
Then we have the leadership program and so those students,
students union advertises the volunteer commitments, or
volunteer activities that students can be part of and
so our leadership students quite often will help out
students union with that. And then also leadership
students are invited to create their own events as well.
Students can take it as a CTS module,
so they can get credit for it.
My first year I only had 37 students enrolled in leadership.
My second year I had 110 registered in leadership.
Third year I had 212 in Leadership.
And this is year four with 305 in leadership.
Anybody can contribute in some way in order for them to feel
like they are a valuable part of the ME LaZerte Community.
Everybody has something to offer.
There's no special requirements. I think if you're going to be in
leadership, get involved with all the activities going on.
That's really the part of leadership.
Right, right, right. Left, left, left.
(Shelley) We're making a music video. And it's
just about the diversity here that exists at LaZerte.
We definitely have cultures that are diverse and I've been trying
to push the students beyond just cultural diversity.
And you know when we talk about diversity there's diversity in
ability, there's diversity in interests. So it's really
about the community building, about the relationships.
And that's the basis behind the leadership program.
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(Kathy) I have a phenomenal staff here because they have to
work really hard. Because you know it's North East Edmonton,
students come with a lot of different issues and my
staff are empathic, they're so caring. They let
counsellors know when there's students that have issues.
Students talk to different staff members.
And so I feel that we really have a great connection with our
students so that students aren't falling through the cracks.
(Teacher) It is us taking care of all of the kids.
And meeting whatever needs they bring to the school.
And that is really complex, it is really challenging because
there are a million different needs out there for us
to try to address but I think that that is our job.
We take care of all of the kids that come through our door.
And we own them and we're relentless with them and we see
them through all the way to the end.
There you go, have a good day.
I know that when they leave us, that they're going to be ok.
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Because we've provided them with the skills
that are going to be transferable for them in life.
That they're going to be able to apply those skills to other
situations in life and that they're going to do well.
It's fantastic. This is where excellence happens.
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