Doing What’s Best for Kids

Interview with Karla Power, the Gary McPherson Leadership Award recipient

Posted on: General News

Can you introduce yourself?

Hi, my name is Karla Power, and I teach ECDP-Grade 6 Music at Christina Gordon Public School.

Can you talk to me about this award? What does this award entail, and what does it mean to get it?

“The Gary McPherson Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership or achievement in enriching the lives of persons with disabilities. The award is named after Dr. Gary McPherson, who dedicated himself to furthering the ideals of equality and citizenship for all Albertans. I am very honoured to receive this award, as advocacy is hard work! I share this award with all of the people who have joined me in this journey, especially all the members of the Christina Gordon Inclusion Advisory Committee.

What initiatives, lessons, or events related to the award have you organized in your school? What has the impact been on students?

“I am the Chairperson for the Christina Gordon Inclusion Advisory Committee. Some of the projects that the committee has worked on are:



  • Creating a special days calendar and providing education for special days (ie Down Syndrome Awareness, Autism Acceptance, etc.)
  • Creating and sharing educational resources and videos for staff, students and families
  • Visiting classes to discuss and read books about Inclusion




  • Requesting more fidgets and sensory tools, such as swings for students who need them
  • Working with the Fundraising Committee to order more inclusive titles for the Learning Commons and Inclusive Toys for the Early Learning Classes
  • Planning for and raising funds for the Inclusive Playground




  • Working in collaboration with the school to offer sensory-friendly areas or options for school-wide events.
  • Hosting events such as a Sensory Sock Hop and Sensory Saturday
  • Hosting an Inclusive Classroom Contest
  • Hosting 2 Inclusion Fairs
  • Hosting an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) Mini Camp


Community Engagement


  • Planning Fundraisers for the Adaptive Bike Program Wood Buffalo You Can Ride 2, Wood Buffalo Special Olympics and the Gross Motor Room”


How has the award reinforced your commitment to your work on inclusivity?

This award has given me a push forward in my work towards inclusivity and the energy to keep striving to teach others how to be more inclusive. I began this journey to ensure that our school and community would be inclusive and accessible for all children, including my own two children, who both have Autism and are non-verbal. Along the way, I feel like our group's small ideas are starting to make an impact. There are a lot more people talking about inclusion and making the effort to adapt so that everyone belongs. I am proud of the culture at our school and feel like we are leaders in Inclusion, supporting the CG Inclusion Advisory Mission Statement, which is "Leading the way by creating positive school experiences for children of all abilities."

Do you have any closing remarks about the award?

“I am excited to make my work in inclusion beyond the school and into the community. My husband, Frank, and I began Hoop Heroes Inclusive Basketball last spring, and we are starting our 3rd season soon. I fully supported this dream of Frank's, knowing that our community needed more accessible and adaptive sports for children with different abilities.

I will also be speaking at GETCA 2024! The session I will present is called Autism and Inclusion: A Parental Perspective.”

Congratulations again to Christina Gordon Public School Music Teacher Karla Power on receiving the Gary McPherson Leadership Award.