Classical school in Kentucky empowers kids with Down syndrome

Immaculata Classical Academy, a Catholic school in Louisville, Kentucky, is a unique school; they are one of the few that integrate special needs students into the regular classroom. The classical school serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade, and 15% of the students have special needs.

Michael Michalak and his wife, Penny, founded the school after searching for a school for their daughter Elena, who has Down syndrome, and not being able to find one that wouldn’t separate her from other students in a special needs class. The Michalaks believed that it was important for her to be integrated in a classroom with other children her age, so they began Immaculate in 2010.

The school’s schedule is laid out so that students can easily go to other grade levels for certain subjects that they are struggling or excelling in – whether they have special needs or not. This removes the stigma of “going to the other classroom” often faced by kids with special needs.

Penny says of the school’s teaching:

In the midst of all of this we are not leaving students behind. We keep our high academic standards while integrating students with special needs.

The school currently has 160 students attending. Other schools have begun looking to them as a model for integrating students with Down Syndrome and other special needs.

As Michael so aptly put it:

When you look at these students with Down syndrome in a classical setting, it is truly what a classical education is all about — what it truly means to be human.

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