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NEWBERRY – Newberry Elementary School has been recognized for its expertise in inclusive education that combines special and general education in the classroom. The Newberry school was selected by the School-Wide Integration Framework for Transformation (SWIFT), a specialized center operating out of the University of Kansas College of Education and under the direction of Wayne Sailor, professor of special education.

The center is funded by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education to integrate special education and second-language programs more fully with the general education curriculum and classroom instruction.

“We look for schools in the country who have already figured this out and are doing it successfully, meaning the kids are performing well academically,” Sailor said.

Working with the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, SWIFT identified six schools due to their successful special education practices.

Inclusive schools do not segregate students with disabilities; instead, they connect them completely to the general education curriculum and use a multi-tiered system to support strategies, which is a way of intensifying instruction for any student who needs additional time or intensity.

After identifying some 35 schools nationwide, the SWIFT team started the process of interviewing school personnel and principals. The team conducted site visits to 11 choice schools, and six were chosen as the focus of its education initiative.

“The basic idea is we need to learn from these six schools things that we didn’t know already that we can build into our technical assistance plan which will begin in October of this year,” Sailor said.

SWIFT is studying and learning to build its protocol to deliver technical assistance to 64 schools in four states in the future and already as a large amount of technical assistance knowledge from work in northern California and New Orleans conducted over the past 10 years.

Professor James McLeskey of the University of Florida College of Education sits on the advisory board for the SWIFT project, and he nominated Newberry Elementary School.

“There is a lot of evidence that shows that Newberry does much better than any elementary school anywhere, that it does enough to meet all the needs of its students and acts as a full partner in the school community,” McLeskey said.

“A large proportion of its students meet benchmarks as far as writing and reading are concerned. It addresses a broad range of student needs as well as most any school you run across.”

Lacy Redd, principal at Newberry Elementary, is proud to proclaim that her school has been doing inclusion for over six years.

“Our students with disabilities in kindergarten through fourth grade are in a regular education classroom.

“We are excited to continue learning about inclusion and getting other ideas from the schools who have been selected.”

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