ISKL - A Place Where All Students Belong

 

ISKL - A Place Where All Students Belong

This past week the International School of Kuala Lumpur (ISKL) participated in the worldwide Inclusive Schools Week sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network.

The ISKL student body has representation from countries across the world and every single one of these students brings something different and unique to ISKL. Mr Rami Madani, ISKL’s Head of School said, ”Every student is their own individual self with different interests, passions, abilities, and aspirations. Each one has their own learning style, and ways of thinking. Each one is a person who, regardless of nationality, language, gender, faith, learning differences and all the other wonderful characteristics that make each of us individuals, has the right to be included, respected, and have equal access and opportunities to succeed and find their passion. This is the meaning of inclusion, and inclusion is at the very heart and soul of our identity here at ISKL. It is part of our DNA, our culture, and our community.”

ISKL’s theme for the week was, “We All Belong.” This theme paints an accurate description of the culture and mindset at ISKL - a place where all students belong. 

Throughout the week, the students at all divisions participated in purposely designed engagements to strengthen the idea that inclusion means cultivating a place where all students belong and are successful. 

At the Elementary School, the morning announcements, introduced the students to the theme of the day. Then, each grade unpacked the theme further during morning meeting activities where the students learned more about inclusion by watching videos like Everyone's Welcome, The Present, What does include mean? and DIFFERENT; reading books like Same Same But Different, The Invisible Boy, Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, Strictly No Elephants, and Red: A Crayon’s Story; and engaging in cooperative activities around the concepts of friendship, empathy, kindness and differences. In addition, there were daily dress up days where the students highlighted what made them unique and what brings them together. The last day of Inclusive Schools Week was a call to action to become a hero for inclusion for all!

In Middle School, students were engaged in homegroup activities that worked to build empathy and understanding around diversity. This included videos created by high school students, games to celebrate individual differences, simulation exercises to understand the challenges of others and discussions to explore ideas of privilege and norms. Students were also treated to guest speaker Dr. Daniel Leong from Autism Initiatives Malaysia who delivered the message, “It’s okay to be weird” -  it’s our unique characteristics that are our gifts to the world. The week concluded with students creating personal pledges for inclusion in multiple languages. These pledges will be displayed in the hallways for the remainder of the school year to serve as a reminder that inclusion is something we all work to contribute toward every day.

In High School, there was a highly popular DIY tie-dye station and students sported their “Tie-Dyversity” tees on Friday. After tie-dying, students shared thoughts about inclusion on a graffiti wall in the canteen. Dr. Daniel Leong, of the Autism Initiatives Malaysia, shared his journey as a student and adult with autism through a division-wide assembly. In smaller groups, students watched and discussed Zach Anner & The Quest for the Rainbow Bagel, Love has no labels, I am not black, You are not white, and To Speak Up for Inclusion, we need to speak about inclusion through a Mini Film Festival in their advisory classrooms. We wrapped up the week with a photo booth by our Pride club, live music by our HS Jazz Combo, and a faculty “Learning Lunch” about including introverts.

 


Learn more about ISKL’s Inclusive Schools Week Coordinators:

About Kathryn Balsamo

Speech Language Pathologist, ISKL Elementary School, kbalsamo@iskl.edu.my

Kathryn holds a Bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology, a Masters of Science in Education - Communication Disorders and a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

Regionally, Kathryn serves on the Special Education Network & Inclusion Association (SENIA) Board as the current Chairperson and is one of the founding board members and advisor of a local SENIA chapter in Malaysia, SENIA Malaysia. Kathryn has worked at ISKL since 2011.

About Trina Cobbledick

Learning Resource Teacher, ISKL Middle School, tcobbledick@iskl.edu.my

Trina is in her fifth year at ISKL as the Grade 8 Learning Resource teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Education, Masters of Educational Psychology and is currently studying International Inclusive Leadership. Trina is originally from the Canadian prairies. In her spare time, she loves to write, read, travel, run and explore nature.

About Vanessa Weber

Life Centered Education Teacher, ISKL High School

vweber@iskl.edu.my

Since 2018, Vanessa has led the Secondary Life Centered Education, for students who require academic, social, and independent living skills support.  At ISKL, she teaches Life Skills, Employability 101, Literacy and Math Intervention courses, and co-teaches English 10. As a learning specialist, she is most passionate about student self-advocacy and developing post-secondary transition plans for students with intensive needs.

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