The Program for Inclusive Education (PIE) has been blessed to work with several schools that sent multiple educators to participate in our 18-credit hour program. When multiple inclusive educators work together in the same building, our mission to serve all children is strengthened. This month, Maureen Bowling and Andrea Bergener, two PIE completers who work at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Plano, Texas, share about their experience having another PIE educator in their school. PIE is grateful for their continued dedication to this mission and their willingness to support one another as they welcome, serve, and celebrate all students!
~Christie Bonfiglio, Ph.D.; PIE Director
Many Catholic school educators face the challenge of feeling like they are on an island. Working in a school and diocese with a smaller staff, teachers may not have a colleague who shares the same teaching responsibilities, and so they may lack a thought partner to bounce ideas off of or to troubleshoot with when demanding situations arise. Teachers who have gone through the PIE program have a passion for supporting and including students with learning differences, but they may find it difficult to put all the great learning into practice. Working alongside an educator who has shared experiences can make this easier and more effective.
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Two of us at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Plano, Texas, have completed PIE. Maureen Bowling is the academic support specialist, working with students on executive functioning skills and preparing student support plans for about 95 students. Andrea Bergener is the math specialist, providing math intervention for children in need. We quickly discovered an overlap among the students we were working with, and we often talked about strategies for supporting them. We communicate with parents and educate the classroom teachers about effective strategies.
In August 2020, Maureen completed the program with PIE 3 and encouraged Andrea to apply and pursue the course of study as well. As Andrea went through PIE 5, she frequently went to Maureen for advice about coursework, ideas for resources to implement, and encouragement to juggle the various school and work responsibilities.
Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Now that we both have completed the program, we are collaborating more than ever to put our knowledge into practice. With our administration's support, we are on a team charged with implementing a multi-tiered system of support at Prince of Peace to target students who need interventions and then monitor their progress more effectively. This is a challenging undertaking, but having two people who have completed PIE has provided a foundation of shared knowledge from which to draw.
Maureen’s experience with ADHD and executive functioning instructional support helps Andrea when she is working with students who have those challenges. In turn, Andrea’s background in math instruction and more recent classroom experience benefits Maureen when she helps teachers who are challenged with managing all the students in their classrooms while supporting students who need extra attention.
Collaboration is at the core of the PIE program, as well as our Catholic faith (Matthew 18:20). The collaboration between us has been invaluable at Prince of Peace. There are so many benefits to having a fellow PIE partner at your campus to reach the needs of diverse students more effectively. If you are considering an application to PIE or are a PIE alum, encourage a colleague to go on the journey with you!
Applications for PIE 7 are now open: Apply to PIE! Participate with a colleague and you both will receive a multi-educator discount. Come join the inclusive education mission and support your school as they welcome, serve, and celebrate all students!