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Include Me
Mission, History and Impact


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Logo for Include Me, an Initiative of The Arc of Pennsylvania

Our Mission

The mission of the Include Me Program is to develop, support, and enhance disability inclusive practices in Pennsylvania school districts. School districts, families, and student teams volunteer to participate in the program at no cost to the district or family.

(The program is funded by the PA Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education.)


Click an area below to learn more about the Include Me program.

Program Overview

Include Me staff (Program Specialists) partner with school districts to create a comprehensive plan that meets the unique needs of the district, teachers, and families.

Key features of Include Me are:

  • Consultation with student teams to support inclusive practices. We offer resources, strategies, onsite mentoring and other supports as identified by the team.
  • Professional development opportunities for teachers, paraprofessionals, other school personnel and families.
  • Student-focused activities to enhance disability acceptance and social and personal awareness
  • Support to teams helping students of transition age.
    • Discovery – an alternative vocational assessment for transition age students
    • Scholarships to school personnel and families to attend any of our Customized Employment trainings
    • Modules to support transition teams
  • Support to increase accessibility of school and district wide events

Our History

Include Me began as an initiative that was part of the agreement of final terms between plaintiffs and the Pennsylvania Department of Education in the Gaskin Settlement Agreement. Initially the state assigned us to work with school districts whose data showed the most students with significant disabilities spending the greatest amount of time outside of regular classrooms. After the initial success, the program’s positive reputation grew among school districts.

Today, school districts themselves choose to participate in the Include Me program to enhance their district’s ability to support students with significant disabilities using inclusive practices.

In recent years, the program has also provided transition-age services to help support school teams, families and students find a path to customized community employment.

Our program continues to grow and evolve and now also offers student engagement in Disability Acceptance Through Literature and After School Hangouts focused on healthy student development. Also, each summer we offer the Summer Inclusion Institute for educators and support staff as well as parents. National speakers, along with Include Me staff, offer sessions allowing educators and families to gain deeper understanding and skills in inclusive practices and strategies.

Our Impact and Results

The Include Me program is evidence-based and has undergone many years of evaluation by external research teams. In the most recent evaluation, the following elements of the Include Me program were highlighted as demonstrating their combined effectiveness to promote inclusive teaching and instructional practices, student learning and classroom engagement, and parent partnerships with teachers and the school administration:

    1. Trusting, confident, and ongoing relationships between mentors and teachers.
    2. Weekly, face-face teacher mentoring supplemented by virtual modes and resources
    3. Teacher mentoring and modeling within natural classroom activities and routines
    4. Individualized and collaboratively designed teaching goals linked to tangible strategies and observation methods which promote effective and inclusive instruction
    5. Strong teacher focus on student participation & engagement in interactive classroom activities
    6. High teacher expectations for all students to succeed
    7. Mentoring to nurture the trust and engagement between parents and teachers
    8. Administrative buy-in and support for teacher inclusion mentoring
    9. Observational assessment of students within classroom learning tasks linked to functional, academic, and behavioral goals for student learning and progress


Multicolored squares are on the report cover. Include Me 10 Years of Effective Teacher Mentoring & Successful Inclusion for Students with Severe Disabilities (2010 to 2020) SPECS For IM Program Evaluation Research Executive SummaryRead the complete report:
10 Years of Effective Teacher Mentoring &
Successful Inclusion for Students
with Severe Disabilities (2010 to 2020)

Contact Us

To discuss participating in the Include Me program or any of its activities, please contact Director Nicole Turman at (717) 234-2621 ext. 118 or email to nturman@includemepa.org

The Arc of Pennsylvania
1007 Mumma Road, Suite 100 Lemoyne, PA, 17043

NEW Module Just Arrived - Trauma-Informed Care. Visit our E-Learning Module Series. This series provides information and strategies for teachers, families, and paras to support the education of all students.

The Arc of Pennsylvania’s Making Employment Work course is an ACRE Basic Certification Training. In order to receive certification, participants must attend a 3 day, in-person training and then complete a self-paced, online curriculum. Completing this certification course will qualify individuals to provide Supported Employment services with Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and Office of Developmental Programs. Our training combines lessons learned from traditional Supported Employment and Customized Employment techniques.

Arc Discovery Employment Transitions (ADEPT) is The Arc of Pennsylvania’s customized employment program. The Arc of Pennsylvania supports individuals with significant impact of disability to seek and maintain customized employment in their community. As a result, The Arc of Pennsylvania’s consultants are trained and nationally certified by Marc Gold & Associates, a national leader in customized employment, to provide Discovery, Customized Employment Job Development, and Systematic Instruction to individuals with disabilities in Pennsylvania who are seeking employment. In addition to providing customized employment services, The Arc of Pennsylvania hosts several certification courses with Marc Gold & Associates for individuals and organizations interested in national certification in Discovery, Job Development, and Systematic Instruction.

Include Me is a new model for inclusive education and gaining meaningful employment for Pennsylvania’s students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Arc of Pennsylvania and Include Me believe all individuals with significant impact of developmental and intellectual disability deserve equal educational and competitive employment rights. Our mission, build and strengthen the inclusive education capacity for all public-school students, and discover meaningful employment opportunities meeting Pennsylvania employee and employer needs. Include Me strives to ensure all impacted students have equal access to all aspects of life and the community throughout their lifespan.

Include Me is an initiative that was part of the agreement on final terms between the plaintiffs and the Pennsylvania Department of Education in the Gaskin Settlement Agreement. We were initially assigned to work with school districts with the lowest inclusion rates. After the initial success, we have grown in reputation among school districts. Currently districts voluntarily chose our services, which are provided free of charge to the district. In addition to our School Age services, we offer transition-age services to help teams plan a path to customized employment for students transitioning from high school.

Donation Refund Policy

We are grateful for your donation and support of our organization. If you have made an error in making your donation or change your mind about contributing to our organization please contact us. Refunds are returned using the original method of payment. If you made your donation by credit card, your refund will be credited to that same credit card.

Automated Recurring Donation Cancellation

Ongoing support is important to enabling projects to continue their work, so we encourage donors to continue to contribute to projects over time. But if you must cancel your recurring donation, please notify us.

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