Dutch Educators Embrace ‘Each Belongs’

Beyond Borders: Dutch Educators Embrace ‘Each Belongs’ at HWCDSB
Posted on 11/16/2023
Dave Hansen addresses Dutch educators and HWCDSB staff

As we reflect on the successful visit of 41 delegates from the Netherlands to our board earlier this month, it is evident that the exchange of knowledge and experiences has made a profound impact on both sides.

The delegation, consisting of directors of education, principals, psychology staff, and educators, arrived with a shared purpose – to explore effective methods of supporting students with special education needs within their local schools. The day commenced with a welcome breakfast, where Chairperson of the Board Pat Daly, in his warm greetings, captured the essence of the HWCDSB's mission.

"I believe God made me, I believe God loves us," reflected Daly, drawing inspiration from the life of Sister Thea Bowman. And that is the message we try to live each day in our schools. We want to ensure every child is treated with the dignity of the human person and having been created in the image of our loving God.”

Breaking into small groups, the delegates embarked on a journey across a spectrum of Catholic elementary schools within the HWCDSB, including St. Matthew, St. Anthony Daniel, St. Marguerite, St. Ann, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Francis, St. Vincent de Paul, Canadian Martyrs, Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Mark, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, and Catholic secondary schools like St. Jean de Brébeuf, Bishop Tonnos, St. Mary, and St. Thomas More.

Before the groups headed off, Tracey Ferrie, Superintendent of Education, set the tone by stating, “Our mission and vision in the school board are clearly articulated in the work we do every day, and we certainly hope that you will see the lived experience of this when you are out in the schools today.”

Our visitor's day was diverse and immersive, offering firsthand experiences of the inclusive processes that have positioned the HWCDSB as a leader in inclusive education. The visit concluded with a light lunch and a constructive question and answer period.

David Hansen, Director of Education, underscored the significance of inclusive education during his address. He reflected on a pivotal moment in 1969 when senior staff presented a report to the Board of Trustees, laying the foundation for the six guiding principles of inclusion. Among these principles, one that distinctly aligns with the enduring philosophy of 'Each Belongs' asserts that “the integration of all children into the ordinary school system is a reasonable aim.” This principle encapsulates the essence of 'Each Belongs,' emphasizing that every child inherently belongs in the inclusive fabric of each of our Catholic schools.

The success of this visit is underlined by the breadth of experiences shared among the delegates. Each school showcased a unique approach to inclusive education, contributing to a broader understanding of how the HWCDSB implements effective strategies to support students with diverse needs.

As we reflect on this enlightening exchange of educational practices, it is apparent that the collaborative spirit between the HWCDSB and the Dutch educators has contributed to the success of this initiative. The commitment to inclusive education, highlighted across multiple schools, reinforces the global importance of creating learning environments where every student is valued.

The positive experience shared by all during the visit speaks to the enduring impact of a legacy that reaches far beyond borders.

Dave Hansen speaks at delegates eventPat Daly speaks at delegates eventDutch educators observe St. Matthew classroomDutch educators observe St. Matthew classroomDutch educators observe St. Matthew classroomDutch educators observe SJB classSJB students in gym stretchingSJB delegates observe class at SJB