Inclusive Schools Week was celebrated at Lakeville Area Schools during the week of December 2-6. Inclusive Schools Week celebrates the progress schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population. Lakeville Area Schools’ Special Education Advisory Council awarded eight individuals for their efforts to create these inclusive environments.
Ann Frisch, a Lakeville South High School teacher, was nominated by two students. Those students say Mrs. Frisch accommodates for their needs and helps them through tough times. For example, if a student has anxiety while taking tests, Mrs. Frisch will let them take that test in a stress-free environment like her room. Mrs. Frisch just makes students feel like they belong.
Cale Seis, a Lakeville South High School teacher, was recognized for his proactive work to provide space and a voice to diverse students. He has done this through a Student Voices program and a popular Dungeons and Dragons after-school club that continues to grow. Mr. Seis is currently working to build the Journalism program at Lakeville South High School. He’s also involved in the district’s Career and College Readiness task force, which is working to create more elective opportunities for diverse students across the district.
Susan Sprenger, a Lakeville North High School paraprofessional, fosters full inclusion with the students she works with by volunteering time after school for American Sign Language deaf events. She also spends extra time helping students practice their vocabulary. Not only has Ms. Sprenger helped lead to improved student performance in ASL, but you can see the delight on students’ faces when they can attend special deaf events like any other student in ASL.
Isabella Bushman-Guertin, a Lakeville North High School student, was recognized for the work she does with DCD students. She advocates for them through authentic bonds of connection and genuine relationships. While Izzy doesn’t have time built for her to work with DCD students, she makes sure to see them before school and during lunch. She selflessly dedicates her time and energy to grow meaningful relationships with a peer group that often gets overlooked.
Pam Kaiser, a Lake Marion Elementary teacher, was recognized for always going above and beyond for her students. She puts her kids above everything else and will do anything she can to get them what they need to be successful. Ms. Kaiser also works tirelessly with the general education team to make sure her students are included and successful. Ms. Kaiser brings pride and passion to work every day, which makes her a leader within the special education team.
Maredith Simpson, a Lake Marion Elementary student, was awarded because she recognizes that her classmates’ differences are what make her classroom a great place to learn. Even though she’s only in third grade, Maredith views everyone as special, unique and important. She goes out of her way to make sure all students feel included. She doesn’t do it because there’s a teacher watching her, she does it because it is who she is as a person.
Addy Milan, an Oak Hills Elementary paraprofessional, was recognized for being a constant advocate for students with special needs and incorporating them into the mainstream setting whenever possible. Ms. Milan makes positive connections with staff to educate them about the students served by the special education team so they can have the best learning environment possible.
Levi Kimmet, a Lakeview Elementary teacher, was recognized for being an all-around inclusive teacher. Last year he introduced all the 4th graders to band. One student in that class has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Mr. Kimmet never saw this student as someone who could not participate in band, but instead saw a student who was excited and passionate about being in band. Mr. Kimmet found a way for this student to participate by playing drums and even rewrote the music to include more rests so the student wouldn’t get tired as easily. It was the first time this student was able to participate in an activity with his peers, thanks to Mr. Kimmet’s inclusiveness.
All eight Inclusive Schools Week award recipients will be recognized at the December 10 School Board Meeting at Lakeville City Hall.