July 2016, Issue 34
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Better Together! Education At Its Best.

Last week, over 500 educators, administrators, family members, and friends came together to celebrate and learn from schools across the country who are committed to all means all.

During Better Together, the recent SWIFT Professional Learning Institute, filmmaker Dan Habib premiered two new films that capture inclusion in action at schools in Maryland, Mississippi, and Oregon.
Together (24 min.) and Whatever It Takes (22 min.) can be viewed and shared on the SWIFT YouTube channel. You can also watch and download the films on Vimeo: Together and Whatever It Takes.
"It's not very common to be in a room of 500 people who share the vision that all means all and that all kids deserve to learn together. It's also incredible to be in a place where I can premiere a film. I don't think I've ever been at a film premiere where a third of the room has been involved in creating the film!"

- Dan Habib, SWIFT Filmmaker
“We believe very strongly in creating a community around education where we can come together and make a difference.  So at the heart of SWIFT, there is heart. 

Many of the students that we are highlighting have multiple paths in terms of the experiences that they have.  Our work is centered on students who have disabilities and students who have the most extensive needs, many of whom are also students of refugees, students of color, students of Native American tribes, and on and on.”  

- Dr. Amy McCart, Opening Session, SWIFT PLI
"I cannot be a champion alone. I am better together. The kids are beneficiaries of better together.

We'd Better! Together."

- Atasha James, Principal, Washington, D.C.
“Expectations are really important. It's really important to me in terms of my expectations that low‑incidence kids, kids with significant disabilities, need to be included. Inclusion without high expectations and appropriate supports is only relocation.” 

-Larry Wexler, Research to Practice Division Director, OSEP
“Oh my goodness, this has been a wonderful conference!  This conference has been wild! The scope of the framework ('S') is just awesome!  When I think about the letter ‘W’ in SWIFT, there were so many wonderful sessions.  There was willingness of people to share knowledge, and I have gained so much wisdom from attending.  And the ‘I’—it is so inspirational!  What innovating ideals and practices that will improve instruction.
And then when I think again about SWIFT, the letter 'F,' everything was fantastic. We thought about the concept of fidelity, family practices.  A whole wealth of knowledge.  Oh, my goodness!  Let's not forget the ‘T’ in SWIFT.  This team is going to transform our environment, by moving us from traditional thinking.  Because we are better together!"

- Andrea Mayfield & Bacardi Mayfield-Harris, The SWIFT Sisters, Mississippi
“We believe that, together, we can transform education so that it benefits each and every student, their families, and ultimately the communities in which they reside.

We ground ourselves in a theory of change that is about achievement for all students.”

- Amy McCart, SWIFT Director of Technical Assistance
“I think we need to do MUCH more to support the natural and organic inclusion of children with disabilities in American schools because other children really do rise.  My son Charlie never had a teacher who didn't tell me it was their best year in teaching.  You know why?  It's because when there is a kid with profound disabilities in the classroom, the other children organize their caring. They begin to think of each other in more humane ways.”

- Sue Swenson, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the U.S. Department of Education
“All of you who do this work every day and work so hard to make sure every kid has the opportunity to be included with his peers.

I have rarely seen inclusion done as well as I saw at James Rosser. They were doing incredible work differentiating their instruction. The classes were universally designed for learning from the get-go. The peers were working together all over the place.”

- Dan Habib, SWIFT Filmmaker
The SWIFT Center produced this document under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No. H326Y120005. OSEP Project Officers Grace Zamora Durán and Tina Diamond served as the project officers. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this publication is intended or should be inferred. This product is public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: SWIFT Center. (2016). SWIFT News, Issue 34, July 2016. Lawrence, KS: SWIFT Center.

SWIFT Center
1315 Wakarusa Drive,
Lawrence, KS 66049

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