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Learning Differences Conference 2013

Alsen, Lara, B.AH, B.Ed
HS Special Education Teacher
International School of Brussels (ISB), Belgium

Lara Alsenhas taught, volunteered and worked in the field of Special Education for over two decades. She received her B.AH (History & Sociology) and B.Ed (Concurrent Program: Primary/Junior) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. After one year as a Learning Support teacher and Guidance Counselor in Halifax, Lara realized that her generalist education degree didn’t equip her with specific knowledge in these areas. She decided to pursue a Masters of Education in Special Education and Counseling Psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Here, Lara combined her love for the great outdoors with her passion for learning about and advocating for people with special needs.  She interned at “PLAN: Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network”, a not-for-profit, award winning organization that helps individuals and their families set up a lifelong systems of support. It was this experience that solidified Lara’s belief in the importance of people with all types of abilities to feel that they are valued and encouraged to be as independent as possible and contributing citizens within their community.

Her vision of inclusion shaped by her recent academic, professional and personal experiences, Lara returned to Toronto and taught for four years in “self-contained” Special Education classrooms. Students’ special needs ranged from Autism, Down’s syndrome, Fragile X, ADHD and Cerebral Palsy. Her desire to teach abroad led her on a search to find a school that shares her core values and philosophy and an ideal match was found at the International School of Brussels where she has worked as the HS Special Education teacher for the past four years. Their mission statement, “Everyone Included, Challenged, and Successful” is brought to life every day by the program she has been supported and encouraged to develop for very special and unique learners.