It was the words “I love you, sister” that hit a chord for Ranch teacher Nolan Malbeuf.
Over the past year, Nolan and Schaller Education Centre staff have been working to build a positive relationship between two sisters at Ranch Ehrlo.
Recently, Nolan discovered an opportunity to connect the two. He invited Emily* to do some painting in his class during his prep time. It was just the two of them in the room, and he realized this was the perfect opportunity to invite her sister, Katie*, who had free time.
“They got to hang out and chill for a bit and they got to paint this canvas together,” he said “One thing on my mind is my family. At the Ranch, family involvement is number one.”
While we strive to include family wherever possible, the Ranch placed the two siblings in separate classrooms in order to meet their developmental needs.
In this case, we had found that when they were together there had been disruption to the classroom environment. That’s why this moment of them coming together in a positive way became a highlight for staff.
“The open-door policy Nolan and I have together really facilitated this moment,” explained teacher Josh Hughes. “A safe and supportive environment is beneficial for all kids, and at this moment they were in a good place to have time together.”
Josh explained staff always work to find time for the siblings to come together, including recess breaks and allowing them to play on the same team.
“We also facilitate those healthy ‘hello and goodbyes,’ simple stuff like that,” he said. “From a sibling standpoint, it’s really positive for them to see each other. They are sweet kids with a ton of challenges.”
During their time with Nolan, he had mentioned to the sisters that he always says ‘I love you’ to his family. When it was time for the girls to say goodbye, Emily had told Katie she loved her.
“It was really cool to see,” Nolan said. “It was important.”
Staff are always using CARE principles when working with Ranch youth.
In this case, staff have ensured their family is involved and have created an environment where they can both succeed.
“It really takes a team to make this happen. We work together to help kids as best we can,” Nolan said.
Josh added, “We try to champion with CARE and take that welcoming approach. It’s beneficial for youth. Sometimes it has its challenges, but in the long run, we are getting there.”
*Names changed to protect privacy