Georgetown UCEDD Celebrates Inclusive Schools Week

December 12, 2022

GUCEDD employees and teachers stand in front of a classroom filled with students. The slide being projected onto the board reads,
GUCEDD employees and teachers stand in front of a classroom filled with students. The slide being projected onto the board reads, "What makes you feel like you belong in the classroom?"

During the week of December 5-9, 2022, the Georgetown University Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (GUCEDD) celebrated and participated in Inclusive Schools Week in the District of Columbia (DC). Inclusive Schools Week celebrates the progress schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to students with disabilities. GUCEDD became involved in this celebration through the encouragement of community partners, Disability Rights DC at University Legal Services (DRDC) and Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE).

The GUCEDD partnered with the Georgetown-Medstar Center for Well-being in Schools (WISE) to pilot a writer's workshop for high school students. GUCEDD faculty and staff, Pamala Trivedi, Robin Shaffert, and  Jalyn Marks, visited an 11th grade history class at DC International School (DCI), taught by Mr. Zain Shariff (general educator) and Ms. Marcela Bednar (special educator). DCI is a trilingual public charter school in DC in which school leaders and teachers have been implementing a founding mission of providing a rigorous international baccalaureate (IB) curriculum to all of the middle and high school students served, including English language learners and students with disabilities. For the writing workshop, GUCEDD engaged the students in  a conversation about disability advocates who have fought for inclusion, emphasizing the significant role of  Lois Curtis. The students were then asked  to write about what gave them a sense of inclusion and belonging at school. Students and teachers shared the ways they feel included in their school setting, as well as opportunities to deepen connections, in part by advocating for themselves and other community members.

GUCEDD is  disseminating a short video narrative that centers the perspective of a personal leadership journey towards an inclusive school with DCI High School Principal, Mr. Christopher Nace. In the video, Mr. Nace shares his identity and lived experience as a person with a disability, specifically cerebral palsy. Additionally, GUCEDD created an infographic asking its audience to consider, “How can DC Public and Charter Schools refocus their talent, time, and energy to improve the quality of education for students with disabilities?

Inclusion in schools is important because it helps to create an environment of understanding, acceptance and belonging. It allows students of all abilities and across all cultural and linguistic backgrounds  to learn together and to develop a sense of community. Schools that embrace and practice inclusion ensure that all students with and without disabilities have access to opportunities, activities, and resources they need to succeed in life.