Ann Marie's All Stars: Roosevelt McGrath Elementary is ending general and special education divide

Posted at 10:52 PM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2017-03-21 15:18:07-04

Three staff member at Roosevelt McGrath Elementary school set out to end the divide between general and special education students in their school.

The results are changing the way their students think about being different and has us naming them All Stars.

“Being different doesn’t really matter,” fourth grader Briana Johanson said.

It's a message her school is teaching first hand.

“Project Unify is all about promoting inclusion acceptance and leadership," Amanda Thomas said.  She’s the dual diagnosis teacher at Roosevelt McGrath Elementary.

It was Thomas alongside social worker Jen Bush, and adaptive P.E. teacher Erica Hope who came up with a plan to have general education students spend their lunch and recess with their friends in special education.

They now head to an area that used to be barricaded by double doors.

“We started with the double doors, opening the doors that have been separating the building,” Thomas said. “It was a physical barrier that created a mental barrier and now that it’s been removed in our school - it’s made a difference everyday in the school.”

Those doors are now permanently open and lined with kind words and pledges to never use the 'r-word.'

“It’s a derogatory term, it’s a slang word for mental retardation which insinuates that people are not smart or that they have inabilities and these kids have tons of abilities and it’s not a kind word to use,” Jen Bush said.

For the students, it’s a daily education in kindness.

“They have so much fun together, they just really enjoy it and they’re very kind to each other,” Bush said.

And it's working, a mission we think definitely qualifies them as All Stars.

“They see each other as an individual first and make friendships,” Erica Hope said.

We want to know who's going above and beyond in your school - to nominate someone for Ann Marie's All Star email