"Be Strong; Know What You Need": A Narrative on Inclusive Leadership


  • Angela Valeo Ryerson University




inclusion, inclusive leadership, disabilities, special education


Based on an in-depth interview with a retired school principal, this paper explores questions around what it means to practice inclusive leadership in an Ontario school board from the mid 1970s into the 21st century.  Using semi-structured interview questions, the investigation specifically sought to understand the practice of creating inclusive schools for students with disabilities.  A narrative style using found poetry was used to give voice to the interviewee.  Central to the practice was the need for a strong moral purpose and a vision of inclusion, as well as the ability to build relationships across parents, teachers, students, and other school staff.  Additional insights included the need for the sharing of knowledge among all levels of school personnel. Instructional leadership, formal decision making approaches, and legislative procedures did not appear to be as important in ensuring inclusion.

Keywords: inclusion; inclusive leadership; disabilities; special education

Author Biography

Angela Valeo, Ryerson University

Dr. Angela Valeo is an Assistant Professor with the School of Early Childhood Education and the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Ryerson. Angela has many years of elementary school teaching experience with the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Areas of specialization and research concern the inclusion of students with special needs into the regular classroom of their neighborhood school. Angela also works closely with community groups such as the Marsha Forest Centre to promote inclusive practices in schools and communities.