New Normal


  • Karleen Rutter


Karleen’s piece “New Normal” provides anecdotal reflections on imagining a more loving and supportive online school environment. Her insights came after witnessing the compassionate and respectful space that exists within her brother’s online classroom, particularly at a virtual talent show. The COVID-19 pandemic brought Karleen back into her family home and social isolation provided her with the time and space to imagine a world that functioned in the same capacity for love that her brother’s school does. This short piece invites the reader to imagine a process of world-building that is based on unconditional support and inclusion despite individual differences and personal vulnerabilities. Karleen acknowledges the ableist reality of ‘normal’ education systems and her reflections provide a framework for which we can re-imagine a world full of love, support, and respect that is exhibited by her younger brother’s classroom.

Author Biography

Karleen Rutter

Karleen Rutter is a third-year Cultural Studies student at UBCO. Since a young age, Karleen has always had a passion for advocating for equity and inclusion, particularly for people with disabilities, due to her special relationship with her younger brother who lives with a cognitive-developmental delay. Karleen has a passion for creating welcoming spaces for all, leading her to volunteer with groups providing accessible programming for children with various abilities in her home city of Edmonton, Alberta. Karleen hopes to continue to mesh her passion for equity and academics together by potentially pursuing a career in law. In her free time, she also enjoys reading, running, and spending time with friends and family on the ski hill and climbing wall.