On August 28 St. Paul’s First Lutheran once again opened its doors. While other children walked or ran inside, incoming First Grader Calvin Lapidus was wheeled in by his full-time one-on-one aide, Carisa Brown. At 6-years-old, due to a rare genetic disorder called Pitt Hopkins Syndrome, Calvin can neither walk nor talk. Yet to the other students of St. Paul’s, Calvin is just like everyone else—a playmate to play with, to joke with and to learn from. He’s just another smiling face.
This is the hope of the inclusion model of education, of which St. Paul’s School is a local leader.
“I called every school in the area, at least 15 different schools. St. Paul’s was the only one who really, truly welcomed us,” says Audrey Lapidus, Calvin’s mother. “Sure he could’ve gone to a public school, but they would’ve placed him in a very limited special needs classroom, with limited opportunity for interaction with typical peers. The segregation of special needs children is the last remaining form of discrimination that is socially accepted,” says Lapidus. “We are so thankful that the compassionate community at St. Paul’s is so inviting.”
By placing special needs students in typical, mainstream classrooms, they are allowed to learn side-by-side with their peers. Study after study shows that all children learn more in settings that are inclusive. Kindergarten teacher Terri Miller notes, “Including Calvin helped all the children learn that even though someone can’t talk or walk, he can still be a good friend to play and work with.” It’s clear from the way that Calvin is greeted every day with hugs and cheers from his friends that, at St. Paul’s, this win-win is a victory for everyone involved.
Contact St. Paul’s School today to see how your child can become part of this Christian, caring, and thriving learning community.
Call (818) 763-2892 or visit StPaulsFirst.org to learn more.