This school year, the 19 pre-kindergarten students at St. John’s Catholic School in Hollywood, Maryland, will be learning lessons about working and playing together and sharpening their skills with letters, numbers, colors and shapes.
On the third week of school, Trish Mattingly, St. John’s pre-kindergarten teacher, said a key priority has been helping the young students “getting their schedule and routine down, (understanding) what comes next in our day.”
But those children are also learning something else, as this year St. John’s School has launched a new inclusion program and welcomed Norah Smith, a 4-year-old girl with Down syndrome, into the pre-kindergarten class.
Susan McDonough, St. John’s principal, said having Norah as part of the school community will be a learning experience not only for her pre-K classmates, but for all 230 students there. “They’ll learn about inclusivity and accepting those with differences, (that) God made us all in His image and likeness,” she said, later adding, “We’re learning along with her.”