AUGUSTA (WJBF) – For more than fifty years, Immaculate Conception Catholic school opened a new book by educating local students. The school expanded its reach and provided classes for children from Pre-K 3 to eighth grade. Three years ago, it started offering a private education to students with special needs. Now, the school is starting a new chapter by offering special education for high school students.
“Our students will graduate with a 24 credit diploma just like any other high school student would. The difference in our high school as compared to other high schools, even private high schools, is our class sizes. Those grades will only have ten students per grade,” explains Principal Allison Palfy.
The Gorlich family knows first hand how the school makes a difference. Both of their children have special needs and started attending Immaculate Conception after years of getting a public education. MaryKatherine Gorlich says her daughter’s desire to read was finally fulfilled at Immaculate Conception. “She was in first grade and she wanted to read. But she couldn’t. So then the next year we came over for the second grade. Guess what? She was reading by the end of the year.”
Currently, the school has an enrollment of 53 students. Of those, 21 are special education. Palfy says the school’s small class size has produced big gains in education for its students. “Our school can take students with all disabilities from mild to severe. However, our school is not just for special needs students. Our school is for any student who can benefit from a small class size.”
Although it’s a private school, Palfy says Immaculate Conception is able to fill the educational needs of the students due to a partnership with Georgia that provides scholarships. “Parents who have students who have IEPs in public schools can get state money to come to a private school. We’re one of the the participating private schools.” Immaculate Conception also partners with Augusta University’s Health Care to provide speech language pathologist as well as occupational and physical therapists.
While attending the school, Palfy says students will meet the same high standards enforced for graduation regardless of their ability. “Our goal is to not only meet the academic needs of the student but to take them as far as we possibly can. So every student, no matter what the disability is, will be taking biology. They will be taking chemistry. They will be taking algebra 1 and algebra 2. They will be taking geometry,” says Palfry.
Palfry adds that all of the teachers on staff are certified with teaching licenses which offers an another level of competency and guarantee for a higher quality of education.
According to the Gorlich family, their kids are not special because of their disability. It’s because of their ability to attend this school. “Their not special education here. They’re just kids. They know it. They feel it. It means the world,” says MaryKatherine Gorlich.
Immaculate Conception Catholic school will host three Open Houses. The dates and times: January 20th from 9 a.m. – 12 noon, January 25th from 9 a.m. – 12 noon and January 31st from 5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.