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How Going Blind Made Me a Stronger Principal and How Including Children with Disabilities Made Our School Better for Everyone

by Bill Henderson

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61250-109-3
Publisher: Harvard Education Press

Henderson uses his experience with a disability to enhance the learning environment at O’Hearn Elementary School in Boston.

In his 30s, the author began to notice the impact of his degenerative eye disease, and he was told by a doctor to get out of education. Instead, he sought out information and guidance to help him cope with the changes. When he was assigned as principal at his school, he began instituting inclusive policies, drawing on his own struggles and reaching out to others to build a successful program. Henderson knew it wouldn’t be an easy undertaking, but because “O’Hearn was also committed to integrating so many students with disabilities, the entire school community had to focus on additional factors. We had to promote a culture of inclusion in which every student was validated for strengths, welcomed enthusiastically, and encouraged to achieve at high levels.” The author candidly shares the details of this transition, providing engaging anecdotes that highlight the benefits of inclusivity when it is set up properly. His ability to make light of situations with grace and humor carry through in his voice. Henderson’s account does have one glaring omission, however: a lack the perspectives of nondisabled students.

Proves that true vision is about the heart, not the eyes.