“It will show other schools around the world that all children can and should be educated in an inclusive setting. We can make a difference, not just at our school, but for all international schools, once they realise what is possible.”
These are a few of the inspiring thoughts shared by Lori Boll, special education teacher at ISB, delivered to the audience that had gathered to celebrate the launch of International School Bangkok (ISB)s Intensive Learning Needs classroom on February 28th, 2017. The launch was presided over by honored guest Khun Ploypailin Jensen, Granddaughter to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and was attended by Dr Payom Chinnawong, the Secretary General of Office of the Private Education Commission from the Ministry of Education, South African Ambassador Geoffrey Doidge, and members from various embassies and chambers of commerce and various schools in the Bangkok. The event marked an important moment not only for ISB but for international education as a whole.
The Intensive Learning Needs program at ISB serves to be a model of inclusion for international schools in Thailand and around the world. It will provide a highly individualized curriculum for children with a diagnosed developmental or intellectual disability (eg. Global development delay, autism, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy) focusing on functional academics and life skills, also allowing for integration with typically developing peers at ISB. They will have the opportunity to learn with a highly trained special education teacher, receiving the range of occupational and speech therapy services they need, all within the vibrant international school setting of ISB.
The event, which was catered by Steps with Theera, a coffee shop and vocational training center which supports young adults with special education needs transition to sustainable employment opportunities, provided guests with more information about their program and allowed the opportunity to view the new purpose-built classroom. This first classroom will cater for 6 elementary school students and will be taught by Lori Boll. Lori has extensive experience as a special education teacher and was the founder of a special education school in Shanghai, China, prior to moving to Bangkok. In coming years, ISB will open a Middle School and High School classroom, taking students from PreK through graduation at ISB.
ISB is a member of Next Frontier Inclusion (http://www.nextfrontierinclusion.org) and has been meeting the needs of students with mild to moderate needs, as well the exceptionally able, for some time. This new program is the final piece for ISB to become fully inclusive and ensure that families can find a school that can meet the needs of all their children.
Students, staff, and families at ISB are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new students. Natalia Yepes, a grade 7 student is particularly excited, “I think that both the students with special needs and the other kids from ISB will benefit from this. The kids coming won’t be isolated and they will interact with the ISB community and be with students from ISB for friends and help. Students from ISB will learn about them. They will learn about acceptance…”.
ISB is proud to join the ranks of just a few international schools in the world with such a program, and excited about the options it will provide for families of students with special needs.
“These students will one day walk across the commencement stage with their peers…and it will be their peers who are the most excited for their accomplishments,” said Boll.