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Mrs. Greer Publishes Article for National Catholic Education Association

In preparation for her presentation at the Teaching Exceptional Learners Conference, Mrs. Abigail S. Greer has published an article for the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA).  Mrs. Greer is a certified school counselor and is in her third year as our principal at The Academy of Saint Matthias the Apostle.  She lives locally in Bowie, Maryland.

 

Inclusion Education- We Are Called

October 24, 2014

By Abigail Greer

When preparing for this article, I conceptualized that currently we are in the middle of the journey of Catholic inclusive education. We are working toward meeting the needs of students, but are a far cry from being able to educate all students who wish to have an education in our Catholic schools.

For the historical perspective on this topic, I turned to my grandmother to ask about her sister.  My great-aunt, Margaret, was born in 1933, the youngest of five and with Downs Syndrome.  I called my grandmother to ask permission to share the story of the sibling I presumed was not educated in the Catholic schools.  I was met with a pause, and then a fact that altered my theory on where we are on our journey.

From 1940-1949, Margaret attended Blessed Sacrament Catholic School in Massachusetts, the same school her siblings attended for first grade through eighth grade. So much for the “amazing strides” I had assumed we had made in the past 70 years in inclusion. According to my grandmother, Margaret was there because the Sisters took care of her. She learned reading and socialization. There was no option to go onto a Catholic high school.

Last year, I sat on a task force facing the same situation my great-grandparents did in 1949: What happens to a Catholic school student who has been educated with her peers up until eighth grade? In the Archdiocese of Washington, two young ladies with Downs Syndrome were faced with graduations from their Catholic grade schools and not a single high school program ready to meet their needs. The answer was a newly-resurrected special inclusion program. This answer took form thanks to prioritization and dedication on the part of a local Catholic high school. Aunt Margaret did not continue her education in any capacity. While their outcomes are different, the question (and lack of options) was the same a year ago as it was 65 years ago.

I do not want to discount the advancements we have made as institutions, as dioceses, and as a society in the realms of inclusion education. I know that research and best practices have molded a new generation of practitioners to help instruction. We now have diagnoses, medications, therapies, specialists, and groups. Personally, in my decade in Catholic education, I have seen the success of students with traumatic brain injuries, debilitating/fatal medical conditions, autism, dyslexia, sensory processing disorders, expressive and receptive language deficits, depression, attention-deficit; the list goes on and on. I’m not sure all of these students would have been greeted with the same welcome arms as my Aunt Margaret. I know I have been fortunate as a teacher, counselor, and administrator to work with students with many different needs.

Inclusion sends a message to the community that we support all stages of life. As Catholic schools, we are charged to prepare scholars, citizens, and saints.

Abigail Sarah Greer is principal at The Academy of Saint Matthias the Apostle in Lanham, Maryland and will present sessions during the NCEA Teaching Exceptional Learners Conference in Austin, Texas. Join your colleagues February 12-14, 2015 to hear more from Ms. Greer and other nationally renowned speakers.

For more information about the wonderful work being done at The Academy of Saint Matthias, click http://www.stmatthias.org/school/.

For information about the NCEA Teaching Exceptional Learners Conference, click http://www.ncea.org/events/teaching-exceptional-learners-conference-0.

 

Mrs. Greer is in her third year as Principal at Saint Matthias

Mrs. Greer is in her third year as Principal at Saint Matthias

You may view the original site of the article by clicking the link below:

http://www.ncea.org/department-news/inclusion-education-we-are-called

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