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Introduction by: Ellen Contopidis, PhD Associate Professor, Nazareth College

As a teacher educator preparing future inclusive educators, I often find myself responding to my students’ experiences with inclusion as “bad examples of a good idea.” The common element of these bad examples is that they are often the description of a place, a classroom, a service, a teacher or a child. Never do these bad examples reflect a philosophy or a culture within a system. Dr. Harold Leve’s leadership of transforming his school to an inclusive instructional environment is founded in a strong vision of social justice. The tools of collaboration, coteaching, consultant models, common planning and quality professional development were all used along the journey. Yet, tools they were and would have been ineffective if not grounded in a vision that allowed a transformation to a “mindset of a more inclusive philosophy.” Hildenbrand and Leve are very pragmatic in their description of the journey. They provide specific details that can be replicated or morphed to be used in other school systems. They also clearly demonstrate that leadership is key to transforming a school’s culture. Active leadership is an important catalyst for system change.


Chapter in Duets and Dialogue: Voices on Inclusive Practices in Our Schools, edited by Marie Cianca and Cathy Freytag. The full book can be found here:

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