“As a Catholic school ministry of St. Madeleine Sophie Parish, we propose to welcome and embrace the children of this faith community, never intentionally turning them away because of economic, social, or educational need.”
-School Commission Statement on Inclusion
Even before our doors opened, those involved in designing the academic program at St. Madeleine’s held paramount the ideal to give support to the families of children who represent a broad range of cultural, economic, familial, religious, and educational differences. Aware of the challenges that would entail, our founders worked diligently to explore best practices in public and private programs around the country that have demonstrated success, especially in a Catholic parish environment.
Being an inclusive school does not equate with being an interventionist school. Giving life to our founding mission means that we strive to provide a general education setting of highest quality, while at the same time always remain open to welcoming and understanding the exceptionalities of all students. We are not a destination school with dedicated special education resources intended to attract a niche population. It is not our role to prescribe or implement therapy. Our program does, however, coordinate with a family’s outside resources to provide good first teaching. By employing a differentiated curriculum design with dually-trained staff, we offer families a first-rate, faith-based PK-8 learning choice for any and all of their children. Ten years of experience – and over one hundred and fifty successful graduates – shows we are building a solid reputation of success.
St. Madeleine Sophie School has committed every possible resource toward providing a climate where each child can:
- Develop holistically to the best of his/her ability.
- Learn to capitalize on strengths as well as develop strategies to compensate for limitations.
- Become a motivated learner who assumes responsibility for learning and behavior.
- Develop social and emotional independence, and
- Learn to advocate for oneself.
To accomplish the above, we daily strive to:
- Develop a climate where each child is acknowledged as a gift from God.
- Identify, develop and utilize individual student strengths.
- Pinpoint challenges and keep them from becoming obstacles to achievement/success.
- Establish a climate that fosters self-efficacy, self-advocacy, and personal intelligence.
- Create an environment that celebrates diversity, and
- Set individual versus competitive goals.
In short, we take every opportunity to make academic, spiritual and social success possible by expecting all to succeed and showing them how.
“Every time you did this to the least of my brothers you did it to me”
– Mt 25:40
Within that spirit, we take seriously our responsibility to animate the policy of the Archdiocese of Seattle when addressing the acceptance of students with exceptional needs:
A Catholic school will accept any child for whom an appropriate program can be designed and implemented following its prescribed enrollment procedures. Each child is to be considered for admission based upon his/her emotional, academic and physical needs and the resources available to the school in meeting those needs. The local school site determines continued enrollment based on these factors. Policy 4.1(g)
At St. Madeleine’s it is our desire to provide the best possible education for each child. The school always considers each perspective student in light of available resources in order to determine best fit. Our process for intake attempts to identify a student’s learning strengths and needs in helping to determine whether an appropriate program can be developed. Specifically, the data we gather may include a review of previous report cards, administering entrance or developmental assessments, interviews or recommendations from previous placements, and an analysis of previous psycho-educational assessments and IEPs or 504 Plans (if applicable). Important note: With our growing enrollment of students needing focused support and our desire to maintain an effective classroom environment, priority for placement is given to those families who are seeking admission for their entire family.
Equally important is exploring why a child’s parents are seeking to enroll a student by determining their expectations and whether those expectations are realistic, and congruent with the resources currently available.
To date, we have welcomed children with a wide range of skills and gifts. When we committed to join like-minded schools in creating a new paradigm in Catholic education – one that reflects our historic roots of providing a quality choice for parents, especially those with children most in need – we knew the task would be enormous. And while we acknowledge that a small parish school will never be able to be the right fit for every situation, we also know that the benefits of a true inclusion experience can far exceed expectations. It has become quite clear from our daily experience (and backed up by an increasing body of research) that ALL students in an inclusive, general education setting gain valuable benefits:
- Meaningful friendships.
- Increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences.
- Increased understanding and acceptance of diversity.
- Respect and empathy for all people.
- Preparation for adult life in an inclusive society.
- Opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others, and
- Greater academic outcomes.
Whatever the exceptionality – academic, physical, emotional or psychological – if a Catholic school education is important to you, give us a call at 425-747-6770 x201 to set up an appointment. We are here to serve and hope we can help!
“We are a single flock under the care of a single shepherd. There can be no separate Church for persons with disabilities.”
Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities, USCCB, 1998
To view two articles and a video inspired by the work here at St. Madeleine’s, click HERE.