The elementary school where Linda Chadburn attended as a young girl in Littleton, Colorado had a deaf unit. Then in junior high, she was a peer tutor for students with severe disabilities — helping them in physical education class.
“I came out of those experiences feeling like everyone needed to be valued and included,” she says.
Her opportunities taught her compassion and patience. It made her better prepared to accept people’s differences and challenges as she grew into an adult.
Now, she works to pass on these same lessons of mutual respect and appreciation to the next generation as the preschool coordinator for Alpine School District.
“I want every child to learn and grow every day,” she says. “I want every child to be understood, met where they are and given the opportunity to reach their highest potential.”
From her earliest days of teaching, Linda has believed the best way to teach all children is by having integrated classrooms, where special education students interact with traditional students and both groups benefit.
“The model works and the research backs it,” Linda says. “Kids with disabilities have appropriate models to learn from and the other kids learn patience, compassion and acceptance for those who are different.”
Linda now trains preschool teachers throughout the Alpine School District to maximize the teaching opportunities that come from such a classroom. Most of the preschool teachers facilitating these integrated classrooms have limited, if any, experience with special education students, so Linda exposes them to the tools needed to give each child the best experience possible.
If that weren’t angelic enough, Linda devotes time to preparing the next generation of teachers to hit the ground running in this inclusive education model. She teaches a course at UVU — “Exceptional Students” — that is required of all education majors and is developed to train teachers on effective ways to assist students who struggle.
“It’s important to advocate for students with disabilities,” she says. “We want them to be successful.”
This mutual success has been an angelic part of her character since her winged days as an elementary student.
Add Your Light
The preschool programs of Alpine School District always appreciate financial donations but see particular benefit from in-classroom volunteers. Best results come from consistent volunteers who can dedicate time each day to assist with centers and offer additional adult help in the classroom.