Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Ryland White

Second Advisor

Rachel Slocum



Special education is a growing field within traditional schooling and many alternative education programs have come into existence to serve students impacted by developmental trauma. An exploration of a culture of inclusivity and community development within a special education learning environment is a project that raises the voices of three professional educators and caregivers for some of Vermont’s most unique and resilient learners at The New School of Montpelier. This unique school serves people with different abilities, and more specifically, young people who have experienced complex developmental trauma during their formative and most vulnerable years of life. Their programs offer a therapeutic learning environment to gain coping skills, life skills, social competencies, and to develop healthy relationships.

This paper is divided into three main parts. The first part examines some of the background and insights that I gleaned as a trainer practitioner in the field during my practicum incorporating some of the conceptual frameworks learned in Training Design for Experiential Learning and Training for Social Action. The second part explores the power of listening and question posing to uncover pathways for inclusivity within the community that I lived and worked in. This was the practical application of Strategic Questioning learned in Training for Social Action applied through three in-depth interviews. The third part is an analysis of the research and interviews with much of each participant’s responses organized by theme but documented in their own words. All research, in-depth interviews, and analysis are approached from a trainer practitioner lens.


Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology