Friday, August 19, 2016 - Updated: 10:19 AM
St. Anthony School Programs will move to a two-classroom model at St. Thomas More School for the 2016-17 school year. The new set-up will offer a more age-appropriate setting for the program’s students with Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities to learn and grow.
“Splitting our students into two classrooms will make a huge difference,” said Lisa George, program director, St. Anthony School Programs. “Our loving and dedicated teachers and aides will be better equipped to meet each child’s needs in a more developmentally appropriate manner.”
St. Thomas More in Bethel Park will be the second St. Anthony school to move to the two-classroom model, following St. Therese School in Munhall.
The students will be separated by grade level, K-3 and 4-8, where both new classrooms will be within closer proximity to similar grade-level general-education classrooms, allowing for a more inclusive environment.
Haylee Ducoeur is the teacher for the K-3 classroom, which will offer curriculum developmentally geared toward students with shorter attention spans. This includes more physical and hands-on activities and specially designed instruction to assist with language development.
Students in grades 4-8 will have more opportunities to learn behavioral expectations from their general-education peers and participate in special activities. The older students will begin pre-vocational skills building by taking on jobs, such as lunch count, office work, parish mail and others. Sandy Young will be the teacher.
“This new model will allow both of our teachers, and their aides, more opportunity to not only collaborate with each other, but with their general-education colleagues as well,” George said. “We are confident this change in setting will help our students build confidence and ultimately lead to a more independent lifestyle.”
St. Anthony provides speech therapy, behavioral health, social skills and motor skills services. Maureen Rykaczewski, Karen Babeji, Jennifer Cartier and Celine Rothaar are the classrooms’ rotating paraprofessional aides.
The organization will host its annual fall dinner and auction Oct. 21, and present Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston with the Spirit of St. Anthony Award in recognition of his spirit and kindness toward all.
Nearly 700 community members are expected to gather at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Downtown Pittsburgh to benefit St. Anthony School Programs.
After receiving the award, Cardinal O’Malley plans to speak on the importance of kindness and inclusion.
To learn more or purchase tickets, visit www.stanthonykids.org or call 724-940-9020.
St. Anthony School Programs is a faith-based inclusive environment for children ages 5-21 with intellectual disabilities. By offering an inclusive environment and individualized attention, St. Anthony has helped Catholic and non-Catholic students reach their fullest academic, social, vocational and spiritual potential for more than 60 years.