Kari Bennett is a life skills teacher at Isfeld Secondary, having held that position for the past four years.
Prior to Isfeld, Kari was the autism specialist for School District 71, and she is heavily involved with Special Olympics at the school level.
She coaches a team at the annual Special Olympics high school three-on-three basketball tournament in the Comox Valley and this year she took a team of Special Olympians to Parksville, to compete in the inaugural high school Special Olympics soccer tournament, at Ballenas School.
She also got the Comox Valley Glacier Kings junior hockey team involved in coaching her Special Olympians during a floor hockey skills development program.
Kari is noted for having a gift “some of the most educated of educators lack; an intuition, a compassion, a breathtaking ability to comprehend each child/student and know them, know what they offer, their value, know what they value, and take this to the typical school population and beyond.”
Kari’s efforts to make the school experience one of inclusion for all can not be overstated. And her compassion is contagious. Parents of “Kari’s kids” will attest to her strengths. Because of Kari’s work, students of all special needs areas participate in more activities within the mainstream population tan ever before, be it on the sports field, or in the music room. (Kari is rumoured to be quite a ukulele teacher.)
“Kari goes out of her way to have these kids/students seen not as a separate group in the school, but rather to
be viewed and valued by the typical student body as peers and friends with skills, talents, ability,” said one parent. “Kari’s concern for not just her students, our children, but for us, the parents. She feels our pains, our concerns, and follows through with parents.”