Thursday, January 27, 2011

An inspiring voice

I met an amazing young woman called Irene Tran in 2007 (right). She was an inpatient here for six months after a ruptured brain aneurysm took her ability to speak, walk and read. You can read about her in this Role Model column we did: The journey from "whatchamacallit". Irene reads the BLOOM blog and sent me a very inspiring message this morning about a school she's attended since her brain injury. She was following my story about Ben and wanted us to know about this innovative program. Thank you Irene! Louise

Mary Ward C.S.S., located in Scarborough, Ont., is not a conventional school. Mary Ward is often known for its unique and very academic program. It is a self-directed school, which means that on a typical day, students make their own timetable and decide what they need to work on on a particular day, with the advice of a Teacher Advisor (similar to a homeroom teacher). A student usually has the same Teacher Advisor for their entire high school career. The program would take forever to explain, but I want to talk more about the special-ed program.

Mary Ward also has a rather extensive special-education department, which includes a team for the students who have physical/developmental/intellectual disabilities and multiple exceptionalities. I never really fit into any of these programs, but because of the intense support I needed early on, I was placed in this group. I have worked closely with this group of students and staff for the past four years in some way. I had a lot of challenges and frustration finding a program to fit my needs, but with a lot of self-advocacy, and support from others, I have made it work and have been doing well. This setting has been ideal for me because it offers a lot of flexibility and it allowed me to work at my own pace. It allowed me to regain many of the skills I lost as a result of my injury. I strongly believe that I was in an ideal setting, because I think that if I was to have gone to a "typical" high school, I wouldn't have been able to do academic/applied level work initially, and would have been stuck and likely in classes for students with developmental disabilities, and wouldn't have been able to regain as much.

Why this might be ideal for Ben, is because it will allow Ben to work at his level. A course is made up of 18 units (typically students take 6-8 courses a year), and for students in the special-ed program, if needed, work one on one, or in a small group with an EA on the academic work (work can be modified to a student's level of understanding), and also have weekly numeracy, literacy, and life skills classes as well. The students in their senior year also all do co-op placements, and they try to find placements suited to their skills and interests. Mary Ward is also known for their great integration of typically developing students with students who have disabilities. My description of the program is very basic, and if you want to know more, please let me know and I'll be happy to explain in better detail.

Louise, I truly wish you and Ben all the best in your search! My thoughts and prayers are with you, and I hope that whatever happens works out for you!


Finally, a person who is using their head and their heart --Louise, you need to look into this!


What a great-sounding school. It's wonderful to know such models exist!

Oh, I hope this could be a possibility for Ben! And I'm in agreement with A -- I wish there were more models like this one.