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King George School named inclusive school of the year

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Saskatchewan Rivers Photo Students at King George School participate in experiential learning and land-based learning opportunities. The school will be named Inclusive School of the Year by Inclusive Saskatchewan on June 1.

Representatives of King George Public School are on the way to Inclusive Saskatchewan
Awards banquet on June 1st to celebrate the designation as an Inclusive School of
the year.
The Inclusive Education Awards recognize those who demonstrate innovation, student-centered approaches, and commitment to the core values ​​of inclusive education.
Art Feher, head of school at King George University, said they knew when they entered the competition that they met the criteria for the award, but winning was still unexpected.
“It was a surprise, of course, because there are so many other good schools, but we would have been pretty disappointed if we hadn't won,” Feher said.
“It was more like, 'I'm really glad we got it because we deserve it.'”
An inclusive education can look different for every student and every school. King George has been selected as a school that promotes an inclusive community for all staff and students.
Feher said that many students at the school have individual education plans.
“Some children are only here half-time for various reasons or have behavioral problems or physical barriers, but we include everyone,” he explained. “On Saturday, a family will even come with us to accept the award.”
The school offers a wide range of learning opportunities whose curriculum includes experiential play-based learning, nature-based learning, character building, inclusivity and cultural teachings.
He said that at this school, like others, there are many students who have learning difficulties in the classroom but excel in other areas. Their goal is to provide those learning opportunities outside of the classroom, whether in the playground, outside at Little Red or elsewhere.
Feher first came to King George when it was just beginning to introduce game-based learning. At first he wondered where the curriculum was, but he was soon impressed by how much it was helping students.
“About a year ago, a boy came to me in the winter,” Feher recalls. “He was in the first grade and said, 'Mr. Feher, can you come here? I want to show you the bear cave I built.'
“The vocabulary of a six-year-old includes the word cave as opposed to house, (or) home, something they grow up with, they've already acquired that vocabulary just through playing. At that point I said, 'These kids learn differently when they're outside.'”
Feher said he is proud of his staff and how they enable students to learn outdoors.
“Some of the kids who are struggling find another way to excel other than being in school. That's nice to see,” Feher said.
Feher said older students can learn science and math through play and use math games.
“They still learn through experience rather than by working with paper and pencil. That still happens, and then we can set up the rooms differently if it's older or younger children.
“I know that in one of the classes in fourth grade social studies class, we had an explorer role play and they did a similar role play. It's just great to do something other than writing with paper and pen,” Feher said.

Saskatchewan Rivers Photo Students at King George School participate in experiential learning and land-based learning opportunities. The school will be named Inclusive School of the Year by Inclusive Saskatchewan on June 1.

Feher also thanked the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division for the success.
“We've put a lot of work into this and there's no way this would have been possible without the help of the school division,” he said. “They can let us experience or test these programs so we can show other people that they work.”
“Children learn at different levels, some children have difficulty reading and/or math or whatever, but you get them to do something else. Then they want to go to school and they
want to learn, they want to do their best and they want to be successful.”
The Saskatchewan Rivers School Division recognized King George for his work that led to winning the award.
School staff said they were also proud of the school's recognition.
“What I am most proud of about our work at King George is our comprehensive inclusion, including our ability and willingness to respond to the individual needs of our students, as well as our school climate where everyone feels welcome,” said teacher Kyla Vandale in a
Press release.
“This didn't happen overnight. King George has been working on experiential, play-based and land-based learning for 10 years,” she added.
The school initially planned two days a year with these ideas in mind and has now expanded this to offer most students the opportunity to engage in experiential play-based learning once a week, as well as offering Forest School (their land-based learning initiative).
“Students and staff see that everyone has a purpose,” said another King George teacher, Stacey Debray. “There is a place for everyone to learn and grow….When you look at this model, incorporating play-based learning and land-based learning is a no-brainer for inclusion and the
simple joy of learning. It was relatively easy once you got a look in and saw the change in the students.”
As part of the selection process, the Inclusive Saskatchewan school team was surveyed about their school for the award. Vice Principal Ryan Gareau said when asked what sets them apart from other schools that could be nominated, the team responded:
knew immediately that this programming set her apart.
“We involve students in their learning and they take ownership of their learning because they enjoy it,” Gareau said. “We've seen an increase in attendance and a decrease in behaviors among students who would normally struggle in a traditional classroom.”
The work at King George is a model for all schools in Saskatchewan Rivers.
Implementation of the SRP SD Experiential Play Based Learning Model.
“I really want to thank our staff for embracing this,” Feher said. “It's just not easy to change. It's not easy to find a different way of learning, but they all bought in and you know, we can't wait until next year to see how much this does for our team.
Children.”
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