At the National Private School Leadership Conference, an annual gathering of educational practitioners and policy directors at the Dept. of Education in Washington, DC hosted by the Office of Non Public Schools, St. Madeleine Sophie School from Bellevue was invited to present on the topic of forming an authentically inclusive model of general education. Describing their fifteen year journey from the conceptualization of their school in 2004 to the present, Principal Martine Romero and President Dan Sherman offered an overview of the design and answered questions from the attendees.
In short, their presentation pointed out that St. Madeleine’s is a general education school that seeks to serve a broadly diverse student population, from highly capable to those with more profound learning, emotional and physical challenges, in a setting that allows for individualized accommodations and/or modifications. The design of the program and it’s resourcing capitalizes on a professional staff who, more often than not, are dually certified and trained in both special and general education. In practice, the adaptation of curriculum is done via an in-class vs. a pull out method and resources are targeted toward coordinating all school and outside support services in concert. At present, over 45% of the school’s enrollment is tracked through a focused, individual student support plan.
St. Madeleine’s has been recognized as a Changemaker School by Ashoka International, presented the Edward M. Shaughnessy Award from the Shaughnessy family and the NCEA, and most recently has been named a Special Olympics National Unified Champion School, one of only 200 elementary through university level programs to earn that distinction. Since so many of school communities present served as resources in the development of the program, the question and answer session was lively and engaged.
During the morning, Mr. Sherman joined eleven other school heads selected to sit at a two hour round table discussion with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on topics of educational policy and teacher support.