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Yellowknife inclusive schooling leader receives minister’s award


Liz Baile, Yellowknife Catholic Schools’ director of student services, has won a territorial award for accessibility and inclusion.

Baile receives this year’s minister’s award for her work coordinating student supports across the school district. Awards were presented at an NWT Disabilities Council ceremony last Friday.

“It was time she was nominated for this,” said YCS superintendent Simone Gessler, paying tribute to Baile’s “long career in inclusive schooling advocacy and supporting accessibility and inclusion in our school system.”

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An employee at the district for 34 years, Baile works with school staff, government agencies and consultants to provide tailored help to each student.

Speaking with Cabin Radio on Monday, she said her inclusive schooling team had recently grown to include a regional coordinator and trauma-informed facilitator.

“That has made a huge difference,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m alone trying to advocate, and work with all different kinds of positions and families, to get students what they really need to be successful at school.”

A trauma-informed facilitator is proving important for students affected by both residential schools and the Covid-19 pandemic, Baile said.

“We see more kids are struggling to regulate, and engage, and feel like they can do school and be safe in school,” she said. “This person is helping to educate ourselves first and foremost: what we need to be rethinking in how we approach children and families who are under a lot of stress.”

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Baile stressed inclusive schooling has to be available for everyone rather than reserved for specific students. Increasingly, she said, brain research is being used by schools to better understand how they can give students more of an identity and voice.

“How do we work with all children universally first? And then we work on ways to accommodate and differentiate with those students who need a little bit more,” she said. “But all students need a range and choice of how they want to learn.”

Though retirement is on the horizon, Baile said she is excited to continue mentoring the two newly created positions. She has also been asked by Inclusion Canada to join a volunteer advisory board developing teaching resources on inclusive schooling best practices, she said.

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