About Me

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I have been an elementary and secondary school teacher and administrator. Currently, I am a faculty member in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. My M.Ed. and Ph.D. had a focus on the educational and linguistic experiences of children who moved from other countries to Canada.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Being mindful of the "why" we are involved with international research partnerships for inclusive education

Magnus, Kimberly, TK, Jacqui, me
Last night our team had the opportunity to visit TK Azaglo and the NGO he began 10 years ago called Future of Africa (click here for the website).

The visit reminded me of the "why" behind our research partnership meetings over the past 10 days.

The "why" is plural. It's the children of Ghana ... and Canada. We are building research partnerships and developing research projects so that we can examine and then tell the story of why it is important that all children have access to equitable and inclusive schooling.

TK works with street kids in Accra. In doing so, he is not only working to meet their needs but is also building the capacity of the university student volunteers who meet every Friday and Saturday night as an outreach to the children.
Sign on the outside of the FOA building

We witnessed this capacity-building work last night as a dozen or more university students from across Africa (Ghana, Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, and Zimbabwe) - all of whom attend an innovative university called Ashesi University in Ghana - met and interacted with children who live on the streets. They do this every Friday and Saturday night. Why? Because they want to make a difference.

Posted inside FOA
It was a powerful experience to observe - and interact with - both the university student volunteers and the kids. It reminded me that, despite radically different lived experiences, we share some basic aspects of humanity. Namely, we crave relationships and knowing that others believe in us.

In many ways, this parallels the work we do in supporting students with special education needs. Encouraging - and sometimes fighting for - their right to have their needs addressed in classrooms and schools with their peers begins when we engage in building healthy and supportive relationships and demonstrating our belief in their value.

As we wrap up this exploratory research trip, it was an important reminder to me to keep my focus on why we do what we do.

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