Two NVIT staff awarded for inclusion

By on May 15, 2012

Two members of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology staff have been recognized for their efforts to create a “culture of inclusion.”

John Chenoweth, dean of instruction, and Faye Ahdemar, college readiness and indigenous academic studies instructor, were both recognized by the British Columbia Association for Community Living.

Ahdemar said she isn’t yet sure about why she was nominated, but she thinks it has to do with her effort in the Steps Forward program.

“I think John and I were nominated because of the way we work, in that we love to have people come and join us from all parts of the community,” she said. “That’s what we would have done where we come from in our own First Nations community.

“We would have worked with people and accepted them wherever they were able to work.”

The Steps Forward program is for “people with certain abilities.” These could be anything from intellectual, emotional or physical, but most people have difficulties intellectually, Ahdemar added.

“At no point did NVIT say we didn’t want to [do the program]. We said ‘How can we help.'”

One student was registered for the program last year. Three students are expected to join next year.

“I think it would be really wonderful if no one saw each other’s difficulties and were just able to accept them and invite them in,” she said. “If we did that, then I don’t think we’d needs to have Steps Forward or any of the other supportive programs.”

Chenoweth helps provide the institutional contact for the program.

“I’m a little humbled, but essentially we said, ‘What can we do to help?” he said. “And then we found avenues, or ways, to get rid of barriers to have students participate in post-secondary.”

A press release from the BCACL stated the two help ensure students are respected and valued. The employees have especially helped those who struggle academically and socially.

Chenoweth and Ahdemar were nominated in February, which is National Inclusive Education Month. The month is dedicated to providing a way where committed teachers, administrators, students and families can be recognized for their inclusion efforts.

Three other winners were announced in B.C.

“Mr. Chenoweth and Ms. Ahdemar have gone above and beyond to come up with ways that NVIT – a true community school – can meet the needs of students with special needs transitioning out of high school,” Danielle Kelliher, director of communications for the BCACL, said in a release. “They have come up with creative ways to ensure that all students, regardless of background or ability, are able to apply, register, select courses, learn, be involved on campus and graduate with their peers.”

The awards ceremony is in Penticton on June 1.

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