Archbishop Damiano School Remains True to Ancient Mission
Every day, the Archbishop Damiano School in Westville Grove, New Jersey, opens its doors to 165 students
with cognitive disabilities. The school’s mission traces its origins to the 16th Century when a man known as St. John of God founded a Catholic religious order dedicated to serving the poor and disabled.
But despite its origins and its religious name, Archbishop Damiano is a non-denominational school. “All are welcome,” says Kate Flynn, the school’s principle.
Students are drawn from communities throughout southern New Jersey, referred there when their home school district does not have a program that meets the child’s needs.
“Many of our students are medically fragile,” said Ms Flynn. “Some are not ambulatory and many are non-verbal.”
According to the principle, the school provides a nurturing atmosphere and the services each student needs to reach full potential.
Starting with the basics of language development, motor development and socialization, the educational program at Archbishop Damiano extends to life skills and interaction with the community at large. As the end of school life approaches, vocational services and planning for life after school are emphasized.
Archbishop Damiano was initially a test site for the AlertSeat, a device designed for children with developmental or behavioral disorders. The school subsequently placed two orders and the seats are now in use throughout the entire school.
Ms. Flynn reports that it is used in classrooms, therapy sessions and physical education where students with sensory issues benefit from it.
“We find it useful for those who have anxiety or who are hyper-active, and the children love it,” she said.
“They may view it as a toy,” she adds, “but we view it as a therapeutic tool.”
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To learn more about the Archbishop Damiano School, click here.