New inclusive education program brings new opportunities


Will Ortbals '24

Next year, De Smet will open it’s doors to a New Inclusive Education Program bringing new opportunities

John Mills, Entertainment Editor

With the arrival of the class of 2027, the school will welcome students with intellectual disabilities, who will, for the first time, be able to take their education to a private school just like everyone else. One classroom will be used for the students to learn each day, while other students will have opportunities to work with these kids.

“We’re gonna start small because this is new,” Mr. Poelker said. “Students next year will only be freshmen and the one young man who is committed is now in a catholic elementary school.”

These students will participate in four classes with their peers, such as Fine Arts, Theology, P.E./Health, and Social Studies. They will have a self contained curriculum taught by Director of Inclusive Education Sarah Patton in Math, English, Science, and Study Skills/Life Skills.

“This program supports Inclusion students strengthening their life skills in preparation to transition into college programs, and even into the workforce,” Mrs. Patton said. ”And they get to share this right alongside their De Smet Jesuit brothers.”

Current students will have the opportunity to help by enrolling in an elective through the Magis Institute as independent study. Mr. Poelker said he is working with St. Louis University to potentially offer it as dual credit.

Those enrolled in this course will serve as personal support for the special needs students in the Inclusion Program by becoming a peer mentor.

“De Smet has always been and will continue to be an example of what it means to become in an academically strong and supportive school,” Mrs. Patton said. “And data even supports increased academic scores as well as positive social behaviors within the school.”

This program will be incorporated into the service requirement. Mr. Poelker said they are still working on how that will look.

The ultimate goal of this program is to have two to three students with special needs enrolled in every grade level.

“We always pride ourselves on being men for and with others,” Poelker said. “This program is an opportunity to show that.”