CNC’s Community and School Support (CASS) Program is based on the following philosophy: individuals with developmental disabilities have the right to support services that respect inclusion and choice, and they have the right to work with skilled staff in community and school settings.
“Individuals with development disabilities are equal members of society,” said CASS instructor Patricia Stuart–Clarke. “It’s not in the person themselves that problems lie. It’s lack of resources. With resources, people with developmental disabilities can be successful.”
In the early 2000s, children with developmental disabilities and special needs were integrated into neighbourhood schools and Educational Assistants (EA) were hired by the school district to support these children. School District No. 57 approached the CNC and asked for a program to be developed to train EAs.
The program teaches the future EAs strategies on how to enhance learning for children with special needs, and how to positively impact the lives and success of the children they work with.
“It’s a great field to be in,” said Patricia, who teaches many of CNC’s EA courses. “This kind of work, seeing those you support continuously grow, is so rewarding. As an educator, it’s also exciting to see the changes in the CASS students, their growth and how their values change.”
As for job prospects, 95 to 100 per cent of Education Assistant graduates are hired immediately.
“Many are hired before they’re finished their Certificate,” said she said.
CNC’s flexible, online format makes the EA training accessible for all students, regardless of where they live or what their schedule is.
While course modules are offered online through Moodle, instructors are also available for help through several communication methods, from phone, to email, to Skype, as well as face-to-face for students in Prince George.
“The program is really convenient,” Patricia said. “It’s not 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m ., where students have to be in class. Students can study and participate in their class at any time and from anywhere in B.C. There’s additional help and resources at CNC for the success of all students.”