Mary Brogan Vice President Catholic Coalition for Special Education (CCSE):
Teaching Together is a creative initiative which could change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities as well as the Catholic school children they serve. By providing meaningful work opportunities, so scarce for those with intellectual disabilities, it enhances the lives of these individuals in a safe and supportive environment while demonstrating their inherent dignity. It is a wonderful affirmation of their unique gifts, which we know are given for the benefit of all. While Catholic school children are certainly taught about the dignity of each human life, Teaching Together affords them the opportunity to really learn this through first-hand experience. The founders’ recognition of the need to train not only the aides, but also the classroom teachers, is critical to ensure an understanding of the goals of the program as well as its clear connection to the mission of Catholic schools. It is my hope that Catholic schools see Teaching Together as one way to demonstrate the culture of encounter Pope Francis is insisting upon, that these aides with special needs and the students and staffs will recognize the face of Christ in one another.
Madelene Kill, the teacher who currently partners with Lani at Our Lady of Mercy : “Lani makes me a better teacher because when she is around I don’t have to worry about things like making copies, running errands, putting up bulletin boards, and organizing science materials; instead, I can just focus on teaching.”
Chris Hunt, Our Lady of Mercy Student: “Through Lani, I was able to learn how blessed not only I am, but how blessed we all are. Loni has everything to complain about, and she doesn’t. Loni taught me to be grateful for what I have.”
Daryll Wanton, Our Lady of Mercy Student: “I would have bad days, and I would see Miss Loni come into class, and it made me happy seeing her happy to be around us.”