Volunteering with students that have complex needs

Volunteering with Students that have Complex Needs

William Aberhart Highschool

William Aberhart

William Aberhart Highschool's transformative Volunteering with Students that have Complex Needs program works with students with diverse learning and adaptive behavior needs.
The volunteers' involvement will contribute to their growth, independence, and inclusion within our school community. Together, we can create a positive and supportive learning environment for all students.

In our Adapted Learning Program, volunteers will be instrumental in supporting students with moderate learning and adaptive behavior needs. Within the Paced Learning Program, the volunteers' participation will play a vital role in supporting students with mild to moderate learning and adaptive behavior needs.

Calgary Board of Education is one school system educating more than 130,000 students in over 250 schools. More than 15,000 employees work together to provide learning as unique as every student.



All Bachelor of Education students


Support students with diverse learning and adaptive behaviour needs in Grades 10-12


Mostly Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.

Note: Days and hours vary according to program (see below).


William Aberhart Highschool

Volunteering with Students that have Complex Needs

What's Involved

Pre-Service teachers will play a crucial role in supporting students with diverse learning and adaptive behaviour needs in Grades 10-12. As a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of these students while gaining valuable hands-on experience in inclusive education.

Pre-Service teachers will

  • assist in delivering a personalized and functional curriculum to meet the unique needs of students in the ACCESS class, ALP (Adapted Learning Program), and the Paced Learning Program (PLP)
  • actively engage with students, providing individualized support in areas such as functional academics, social communication, independence, daily living, safety, citizenship, leisure, vocational, and volunteering skills.

Through peer mentorship initiatives, Pre-Service teachers will

  • help foster meaningful inclusion in the school community, tailoring activities to suit the interests and abilities of the students.
  • enhance the overall learning experience for students by implementing learner supports and accommodations, such as assistive technology, augmentative communication systems, work systems, and sensory activities.
  • collaborate with teachers, staff, and fellow volunteers to create engaging lesson plans, modify curriculum, and implement best practices that cater to the diverse needs of our student population.

The volunteers' role will extend beyond academic support as they contribute to creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment. Reflective practice will be encouraged, allowing you to critically analyze your teaching approaches, seek feedback, and make necessary adjustments to better support students with complex needs.



  • Participants must have a current Police Information Check with Vulnerable Sector Screening. Students who do not already have a police check should begin this process online at their local police station as soon as possible, as police checks often take 4-6 weeks to process.
  • Patience, empathy, and understanding for working with students that have diverse needs.

  • Apply a variety of teaching strategies to meet the needs of individual learners in different educational settings.
  • Design and implement a variety of activities that meet students’ interests and learning needs.
  • Examine a variety of approaches to teaching and learning in non-traditional educational settings.

  • Examine how educators apply teaching concepts in their daily work.

  • Examine how programming fosters inclusion and personal growth.

  • Examine how programs and educators create communities that are conducive to teaching and learning.

  • Gain experience working with youth in a classroom setting

  • Gain experience working with youth in a small group setting

  • Gain experience working with youth in an individual setting

Werklund Dates and Times


Applications Open: September 1, 2023

Event #1 - Werklund Student Orientation: November 8, 2023, 2:00 - 3:30 pm

Applications Close: November 9, 2023


Event #2 - Prepare to Launch: January 11, 2024, 9:00 - 10:00 am

Event #3 - Strategies Workshop: February 1, 9:00 - 10:30 am

Event #4 - Wrap up and Reflect: February 29, 9:00 - 10:30 am

Volunteering with Students that have Complex Needs Dates

  • Placements begin: early  January 2024
  • Placements end: mid-March 2024
  • Training Session: Once the placement is confirmed, there will be a 1.5-2-hour orientation prior to working with students
  • The program operates during normal school hours between 8:45 am and 3 pm Monday-Thursday, with Fridays ending at 1 pm

The overall time commitment is flexible at 15 hours-60 hours in total, depending on the Pre-Service teachers' interest and availability. However, the program requires consistency once volunteers' schedules are set.


Making Connections

  • Throughout the semester, pre-service teachers will curate their volunteering experiences using a creative medium (e.g., photos, art, storyboarding, videos, etc.) that best reflects their experiences in the program. Your creative reflections will form part of a public showcase of Werklund student experiences later in the year.
  • Pre-service teachers will participate in 2 group meetings: one at the mid-point and another at the end of their placement (1 hour each). These group meetings provide pre-service teachers with opportunities to reflect on the community placement experience and to guide improvements for the program.

Applications for the Winter 2024 cohort of the Volunteering with Diverse Communities Program are now closed.