About 500 of Lloydminster Public School Division’s staff kickstarted the upcoming school year together. All faculty, bus drivers, board members, support staff, maintenance workers and everyone employed by the LPSD gathered together to focus on the year ahead of them.

The kickstart is a time to reflect on the values of LPSD and the impact each staff member has on the development of students. LPSD staff were presented to by Shelley Moore, an inclusive education consultant and advocate. Moore shared with the teachers how the idea of inclusive education is changing

“Historically inclusive education has been how to include kids with disabilities,” says Moore. “Historically we’ve been trying to figure (it) out, and they’ve been segregated into different programs. But I think what inclusive education is really evolving into is, not necessarily including kids who are different, to how we teach to difference.”

Moore says that many kids experience diverse struggles in their school years. With many different kids needing support for many different reasons, Moore advocates for empowering teachers to be able to provide that support. Kids may feel they are different for their race, gender, culture, language and ability, and teachers ought to be supported helping them shine bright.

“It’s one thing to meet the needs of individuals (and) it’s another thing to meet the needs of a group of diverse individuals. It’s sometimes seen as more work but it’s really helping people to see that it’s not more work, but it’s different work, and we have to support our teachers in that way.”

While in the area, Moore spent time giving similar presentations in Onion Lake, to school administrators and a community session. The focus changed depending on the group; administrators looked at inclusion from a leadership perspective, while a community group looked at advocacy support and how parents could know what to ask for.

The advocacy is personal for Moore; growing up, she struggled in school and admits it wasn’t a good story. This inspires her to dig into the many ways kids face adversity in their schooling and to look for solutions from those who can help. Moore believes we can help support kids throughout their time in school whenever they need it.

“It’s really thinking about the ‘me’s’ [sic] out there, and the kids that struggled in school, and say ‘how do we make this better for them’ and not have to lose the kids that aren’t being successful, and getting supports to kids before they get the point of crisis and failure. That’s really one of the topics we were talking today, and really destigmatizing that idea of support and making sure that kids just get what they need when they need it, without having to wait.”

On top of the keynote presentation, LPSD staff heard from Director of Education Todd Robinson. Highlighting the division’s core values, such as respect for diversity, care for themselves and others, continuous improvement and leadership in making positive choices, Robinson believes there was great deal alignment between these messages that was purely unintentional.

“I’d like to say that was a planned occurrence, but it really wasn’t planned,” says Robinson. “Which I think at the end of the day speaks to the value of the message that we have, At Lloyd Public, we believe every kid can achieve personal excellence, and we stick to that. That’s our mission.”