Camden’s Accelerating Inclusion Institute Brings Together Special Education Leaders Across District, Charter, and Renaissance Schools

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Last week the Center for Learner Equity launched the Accelerating Inclusion Institute, an 8-session series for Camden educators to develop capacity, share best practices, and identify citywide opportunities to better support students with disabilities.  

The Institute has been funded by the Camden Education Fund.  It comes on the heels of CEF’s $1.2 million grant program enabling schools to develop new supports for students with disabilities.

“We are committed to supporting Camden schools in serving all students with the care and intentionality they deserve. The Accelerating Inclusion Institute provides an unprecedented opportunity for educators across school types to come together to drive equity and improve outcomes for students with disabilities,” said Naeha Dean, executive director of Camden Education Fund.  “We are grateful to The Center for Learner Equity and to our educators for devoting their time and expertise to this collaborative initiative.”

Lauren Morando Rhim, executive director and co-founder of the Center for Learner Equity (formerly known as the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools), said,

We are proud to partner with the Camden Education Fund to provide critical learning opportunities to key personnel in Camden schools as they double down on efforts to support students with disabilities and accelerate their learning after the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Research has documented that students with disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and we have developed rich and engaging content to build the capacity of school teams from charter, renaissance, and traditional public schools in Camden.

The institute will lead school teams through three content arcs that build and reinforce the critical skills, beliefs, and practices schools need to ensure equity and inclusion for students with disabilities.  The arcs include: (1) lesson design in inclusive settings to meet the needs of all learners, (2) data practices that drive instructional decision making, and (3) effective resource allocation to meet the needs of all learners.

“Equity in schools has never been more critical and COVID has dramatically elevated the discussion. But too often, this work excludes ability. It is time to focus on building more anti-ableist schools. This institute is a unique opportunity to work with school teams across district, charter, and renaissance schools who are committed to confronting these systems and implementing solutions that ensure equity for students with disabilities. Amidst the tremendous challenges schools are facing, there are leaders and educators who are committed to improving their practices and the overall experiences for students with disabilities,” said Megan Ohlesson, Managing Director of Programs at The Center for Learner Equity..

In the first session, participants examined authentic engagement among students, unpacking common barriers to engagement in lesson design.  Participants identified strategies to remove these barriers and examined a protocol for proactively planning for engagement.  Space was set aside for school teams to plan key action steps for their schools.

The Accelerating Inclusion Institute accepted applications from school teams in the month of October.   In November, Center for Learner Equity selected 9 teams, each comprising 3 members, to participate in the Institute.  Participating schools teams are:

  • Camden City School District – Central Lead Educator Team
  • Camden City School District – Thomas Dudley School
  • Camden City School District – Catto School
  • LEAP Academy Charter School
  • Freedom Prep Charter School
  • Camden’s Promise Charter School
  • KIPP Whittier Middle School
  • KIPP Lanning Square Primary  
  • Uncommon Camden Prep High School

All 27 members of the Institute will receive a stipend for their input and participation.  The Institute will meet monthly from November through June.

For more information on the Center for Learner Equity, visit

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