As an inclusive and diverse international school, our commitment is to the well-being of every student, no matter their background or abilities.
In the past, finding an international school that supported students with learning needs was a challenge for parents and although many schools around the world and in Bangkok have now begun to offer a form of special needs education, these programs are still often limited. At International School Bangkok (ISB), we have invested heavily in a comprehensive approach that incorporates world-class facilities, extensive specialized resources, and specially-trained staff whose adaptable and creative approach to education offers the best possible outcomes for children.
Our Intensive Learning Needs program features an individual curriculum for every student, designed with their personal developmental needs in mind. Classes are very small, with a high teacher-to-student ratio, and teach basic life skills as well as an introduction to the general academic curriculum. They also make the most of a fully equipped and purpose-built teaching space, complete with kitchen, recreational area, occupational therapy and sensory space, dining and shower areas, and plenty more.
Students in the program receive focused care appropriate to their needs, whether they have Autism, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, physical disabilities, or any other form of developmental delay. Exceptionally dedicated teachers are needed to lead these students toward their full potential, so that they can learn to thrive independently as valuable members of society.
Our model includes integrating students with special needs with their typically developing peers wherever possible, enhancing the learning potential of both. Lori Boll, ISB Elementary Intensive Needs teacher said, “I saw a quote once that really made an impact on me: ‘1 in 20 children have a disability. That gives 19 kids a daily opportunity to learn about diversity, collaboration, inclusion, and friendship.’ I like to think that we can apply this to our learning environment here at ISB.”
An optimal learning environment starts with excellent teaching.
Ms. Boll came to ISB four years ago, having previously taught in the United States, Saipan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and China. She has spent a total of ten years as an elementary educator, four years as an academic counselor, and eight years as a special educator. She has Master’s Degrees in both Special Education and Reading Education, and has been certified as an elementary teacher and special education teacher for students with mild, moderate, severe, and profound learning disabilities.
Her career path was heavily influenced by her own son, whose diagnosis of profound Autism at age five inspired Ms. Boll to focus her education on taking care of children with special needs. She has since developed a true passion for the subject, and for her belief that all children can learn if given the right opportunity, in an appropriate and welcoming environment.
Ms. Boll’s classes provide exactly this environment of support, where each child works towards individualized goals as part of an inclusive school community. The rewards of this focused but welcoming approach come each day, in the form of new words learned by the students, new skills mastered, and new forms of meaningful interaction between her and the children. Ms. Boll, is supported and works alongside a strong multi-disciplinary team including a Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, and well-trained Instructional Assistants. It is this highly skilled and dedicated team that provides a supportive, inclusive environment for the students to feel safe, learn and grow. .
Her dedication to special needs education is equally evident, with her career featuring one community project after another. Years ago, she and her husband helped co-found an inclusive school for children called SHINE Academy in Shanghai, China. She has also been a board member of the Special Education Network & Inclusion Association (SENIA) since 2010, which puts on a yearly conference to advocate for students and families with special needs.
Ms. Boll has been giving presentations on Autism and other learning needs at international conferences and parent groups for more than a decade, and plans to continue doing so indefinitely. She currently works closely with ISB’s High School InvisAbilities Club, which participates in sporting activities and raises money for the special needs community while also generating increased awareness for those with disabilities.
Ms. Boll has been heartened by the current environment for children with diverse learning needs in education, particularly when compared to the relative lack of opportunity in the field a generation ago. She therefore makes the most of every lesson when teaching young children at ISB – helping students not only with academic skills, but also life skills such as following a recipe, doing laundry, putting materials away, observing a schedule, and working independently.
Each of these activities succeeds because of the nurturing environment in ISB’s Intensive Learning Needs program; led by skilled and kind-hearted teachers. With an extraordinary talent for helping her students overcome barriers, teachers like Ms. Boll help ISB reach new heights in its quest for diversity, inclusivity, and positive community involvement.