I absolutely love stories as a way to share ideas and illustrate positive practices. This video was sent to me by Indrani Solomon and her son, Pranoy. It is a glimpse inside Pranoy’s life as a friend, classmate, athlete, and student. Here is a bit of what Indrani wrote about their inclusive journey:
When Pranoy started out learning the piano at 4 years of age, his teacher, Ms J, exhibited due diligence even though she had no experience teaching music to anyone with a disability before. I remember those years chanting my mantra, “Tomorrow is another day” hoping to see progress. A few weeks shy of his 10th birthday, he participated in his first recital. Now he is playing the piano with both hands and multiple fingers as it should be.
While he was making progress, something else was happening in the background for us to see the spark finally. We found a great basketball coach, essentially a competitive soccer coach by night and a lawyer by day, just filling in the gap to coach his son’s basketball team. You could call it a serendipitous occurrence.
Coach M is no longer his basketball coach but Pranoy is driven to learn the sport. The fascinating part is that he keeps in touch with Coach via email giving his Speech Language Pathologist, Ms K, an edge to perfect Pranoy’s communication skills providing him the time, attention and teamwork he sorely needs to advocate for himself, all through a communication device!
It is simply amazing to watch a school build its curriculum around love, “the intrinsic love of learning”, aptly expressed by Mrs. T, his science teacher. And as the head of school, Dr. F elaborates, “We believe in our students and hold them up to high standards, both academically and behaviorally. Perseverance and self-advocacy are skills that will serve them well in college and throughout their lives. We truly believe that one thing that can really set people apart is their ability to keep working when the work gets hard. We teach them the power of kindness and remind them that, like academic skills they learn, being kind also requires regular practice.”
There is so much to appreciate about this inclusion story. It’s a great example of growth mindset, for instance. The adults involved were willing to invest in Pranoy, give skills time to develop, and teach him the way he learns. It’s also a story of collaboration; everyone is working with a shared purpose including the student, his family, community members, and educators. Finally, I love Pranoy’s story because of the emphasis on ability, goals, and rigor. From the piano to basketball to assembling models, this young man responds to the high expectations of his teachers and his family.
As I was watching it, I was also thinking how powerful video can be in terms of communicating a vision, highlighting supports, or celebrating success.
Do you have an inclusion success story? If so, have you used video to share it? Consider the possibilities of creating such a tool. It might be used to help teachers learn about inclusion or to educate a school board. It could also serve as a self-advocacy tool.
Have a great inclusion story? Tell it. The world needs it.