It was always in the plans, but the pandemic put Frazer’s Early Childhood Inclusion Program on fast-forward. Three years ago, Frazer began a partnership with the Adaptive Learning Center (ALC) which specializes in inclusive early education. ALC specialists would come into the classrooms to observe the environment and work with the teachers and children to determine what adaptations could be made to better support the children with special needs.
This model of inclusive education has been tremendously successful, but maintaining it would prove to be a challenge without extra grant funding. So last fall, with an eye toward sustaining the program in the long term, Frazer brought on a full time Inclusion Coordinator, Courtney Kiser.
Courtney first discovered Frazer when she toured the facility with a family whose child she was supporting. She fell in love with the environment and knew she wanted to work at Frazer. As fate would have it, Courtney was perfectly suited for the new Inclusion Coordinator position which allows her to combine her skills and passions: early childhood development and Applied Behavior Analysis within the natural environment of the classroom.
In March, when the pandemic hit and Frazer temporarily closed, the administration was forced to take a good, hard look at the partnership with ALC. Frazer Center’s Inclusion Program was designed to grow, and the pandemic fast-tracked its evolution.
Frazer still maintains a partnership with ALC. After the pandemic, an ALC specialist will eventually return to the building for ten hours a week. But Courtney is now our on-site go-to person for all inclusion matters within the children’s program.
Courtney is responsible for coordinating communication with each child’s team—including parents, therapists, teachers, and Frazer administrators—to ensure everyone is on the same page and applying the same interventions to support each child’s growth and development.
Although Courtney loves being hands-on in the classroom, her goal is to empower the teachers so that she is needed less. For example, since some children learn better with visuals, Courtney provides picture cards for the teachers to show the children what is expected of them during large group activities. These visual cues become an inclusive tool when the teachers use them with everyone in the classroom to help meet the needs of each individual child.
“Her knowledge, her ideas, her tools are very crucial to me,” says Yolonda Youngblood, a veteran teacher at Frazer. “Courtney will come into the classroom, make an observation, and demonstrate what needs to be done with a particular challenge a child has. It makes my life smoother once I know what to look for and how to redirect or intervene to support that child.”
Courtney now has the help of a second full time inclusion staff member. Inclusion Coach Brittany Redding has a similar background in Early Childhood Education and Applied Behavior Analysis, and floats from classroom to classroom to help model behavior for both children and teachers.
Based on the feedback from parents of children with special needs, Frazer’s Inclusion Program is working. Relationships, trust, communication, and teamwork are the cornerstones of the program, and with Courtney Kiser’s guidance, all of Frazer’s children are bound to soar.
If you would like to support Frazer’s inclusion programs for children and adults with and without disabilities, CLICK HERE.