SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards – Stefanie R Slaunwhite

Author: Andrea

Posted on Sep 8, 2021

Category: Money Matters , Student Stories

Profile of Stefanie R. Slaunwhite

Award Received: Canada Graduate Scholarship, Doctorate (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

Awarded for the project: The Dr. William F. Roberts Hospital School: A Critical History of a Contested Institution

Faculty: Arts

Department: History

Project supervised by: Sasha Mullally, PhD

My research explores the history and legacy of The Dr. William F. Roberts Hospital School in Saint John, New Brunswick. Hailed as “an innovation in institutional concept and design,” when it opened in the 1960s, the "Hospital School" served students with a wide variety of special educational needs. Two of the largest wings accommodated "educable and trainable" children with intellectual and physical disabilities, while the remaining two wings housed a diagnostics unit and an infirmary. Despite the promise of the institution, my research suggests that the therapeutic and educational programming was not equally applied within its walls. In a newspaper article from 1984, for instance, a commentator claimed the school demonstrated a “serious lack of capability of the school to services francophone parts of the province.”

In fact, multiple social markers created complex experiences for students in the Hospital School.  These experiences cannot be properly understood through examination of disability alone.  As a social historian, I apply an intersectional lens to assess student experience through the interconnected social categories of ethnicity, race, class, and gender. The history of this Hospital School reveals how Atlantic Canadian education systems managed students with diverse needs before the widespread "mainstreaming," or integration, of such students into public schools.  This work advances the larger history of institutionalized education and care for children with disabilities in Canada in the 20th century.