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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Parent & Teacher Groups, Special Education

Mission: St. Rita School for the Deaf is a Catholic school whose purpose is to educate infants and students who need special methods of communication in a safe, value-oriented environment.

Results: More than 90% of students enrolled into the LOFT program are prepared for Kindergarten.

Target demographics: children 6 weeks to 12th grade who have a hearing loss or are hearing and have communication needs such as apraxia

Direct beneficiaries per year: 182

Geographic areas served: the Greater Cincinnati area

Programs: LOFT Language Opportunities for Tots The LOFT program is designed to meet the developmental needs of young children, hearing and deaf, from birth to 5 years old. It strives to provide experiences that enrich and enhance each child’s language, cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and creative development. Staff provide care that is warm, supportive, nurturing, and responsive to each child’s needs. Within LOFT’s daily schedule, each child will be exposed to opportunities to create, explore, and influence their environment, with an emphasis on developing communication and problem solving skills. A balance of child-centered and adult-modeled activities promote interpersonal interaction and provide opportunities to develop a positive self-concept. LOFT’s preschool program is built upon the Montessori philosophy and led by a Montessori trained and certified teacher. Large open spaces and low teacher-child ratios create an environment that is conducive to every child’s growth and development. Following the Early Learning Content Standards, children leaving preschool and entering Kindergarten will be prepared and ready to learn. Learning Gardens St. Rita School for the Deaf has a unique Learning Gardens program, providing hands-on learning experiences that support state standards for Math, Science, and English. The gardens and greenhouse help nurture the wonderment of nature, create respect for all living things, and inspire students to work cooperatively with one another and their community. Through their work in the gardens, students are reminded that there is a myriad of exciting discoveries to be made in the natural world, and that they don’t have to travel someplace exotic to experience thrill. The Learning Gardens provide the perfect backdrop for students to learn about propagation, landscaping, soil, preparation, composting, and pest control. In a totally organic environment, students of all ages are learning how to grow foods naturally, not only for the health of the earth but for the health of their own bodies. Literacy We believe the best way to educate deaf and hard of hearing children and hearing children with language or communication disorders is through Comprehensive Communication. This philosophy offers a child every available stimulus for human interaction, including ASL, PSE, assistive listening devices, visual aids, and technology. All staff and teachers communicate in a way with each child to help him/her develop their language and build reading and writing skills. A full-time Literacy Coordinator works closely with teachers and speech therapists to ensure that each student stays on track with his or her reading and writing goals. St. Rita School for the Deaf is currently using Literacy comprised of a Nine Piece Program which includes: Reading to Students, Language Experience, Independent Reading, Dialogue Journals, Guided Reading and Writing, Shared Reading and Writing, Writing Workshop, and Research Reading and Writing. It also includes Montessori methods as well to help children identify parts of speech and sentence structure. Socialization Growing and learning socially, outside of the classroom, is an important aspect of education at St. Rita School for the Deaf. With a thriving “After School Activities Program”, St. Rita School students have unique opportunities to communicate with their peers in a more casual setting. There are clubs, classes, and team sports for different age groups, with new activities available each semester. These social programs are not limited to St. Rita School students, but are open to all mainstreamed students as well. These programs serve as a creative outlet for self-expression, teamwork, and building self-esteem. Technology Technology plays a crucial role in developing communication and language with the students at St. Rita School for the Deaf. Children who wear haring aids and cochlear implants can benefit from the Phonak FM System. The FM System amplifies the teacher’s voice to help children recognize speech sounds and focus on what matters most, learning. Classrooms are equipped with technology that includes Interwrite Boards, computers, and video phones, and TVs. Interwrite Boards become an extension of the computer, offering students a chance to stand in front of the class and use digital markers to write, drag, and tap their way through educational lessons that are fun. Using the virtual marker, students can drag words to their corresponding pictures and watch the image come to life through simple animation. These interactive exercises assist St. Rita’s students of all ages form connections between ASL (American Sign Language) and written English. The school continues to see an increase in Reading and Math scores while using the Interwrite Boards. Video phones provide a visual tool for communicating with one another. Students can see the facial expressions of the other person to provide a clear communication of the concepts and ideas being portrayed. WSRS News is broadcasted live from the TV studio to all classrooms everyday to for morning announcements, The Pledge of Allegiance, and a thought for the day. Vocabulary words are introduced as well to help the child continue to develop their language. Sign n’ Say www.apraxiaeducation.org St. Rita School for the Deaf’s Sign n’ Say Program uses sign language to give students with childhood apraxia of speech another way to communicate, building a language base to allow children to progress in their academic education while they develop the speech skills needed to communicate verbally. Small class sizes allow each student with apraxia to receive individual attention they need to overcome their motor and sensory challenges associated with Apraxia. These components are combined Sign n’ Say adaptation of curriculum and teaching techniques to create an environment where children can succeed both academically and socially. A support group allows parents of apraxic children to get together once a month and compare notes on how they are dealing with the special needs of their child. The group is open to parents of students not enrolled in the Sign n’ Say program as well. Voc 2 A program for high school students who are deaf with other multiple needs and their learning and language level are far below their age. The students are not college bound students but have the potential to be productive members of society after they leave St. Rita School for the Deaf. The Voc 2 program teaches functional academics through the community and life skills. Students participate in an array of programs including the Special Olympics and community work sites. A Work Study Coordinator, works closely with the students teaching them job training skills. She also works closely with community businesses that are willing to help train students in various jobs. Currently, CiCi’s Pizza in Tri-County, LaRosa’s in Tri-County, and Sharon Hill Day Care are embracing our students and teaching them various job training skills to help them become productive members of society. Part of the curriculum for the students is to have “specials” for the kids which include physical education, art, and for some of the students-yoga.

Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

St. Rita School is such a wonderful community. I am so glad that we found them and have been able to enroll both of my children in their LOFT program from a very young age.

Client Served

Rating: 5

ST Rita School is a place where your child can get an education no matter what the learning disablility or physical disablility is. The school has well qualified staffing in all aspects. They are well trained, have the patients of Saints and is kind and helpful no matter what the problem they will work with you to solve it. My child have done a 360 turn around in behavior and education due to the staffing and the education plan they set to fit his needs.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son has been at St. Ritas for 11 years, the school district had told us when he was 4 that due to his apraxia, he would be in a program where he would get a certificate of attendence and get work expereince at McDonald's. Thankfully, we found St. Rita's and he is getting an education.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Outstanding resource for communication impaired children. Teachers maintain a caring,supportive, structured, disciplined environment to develop students emotionally and physically while providing tools for effective communication. I feel truly blessed to have this resource in our community.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son entered St. Rita's at age 4 1/2 years. At the time, he was almost non-verbal despite our on-going attempts at various speech therapies. Six months later, our friends and family cannot believe the difference in our son and his ability to communicate - both verbally and signing. Not only is he speaking in short full sentences, we are seeing tremendous positive gains with regard to his behavior and attitude. Because of St. Rita's, our son has a voice and a bright future. The staff is warm and caring and the curriculum is first rate. St. Rita's is an amazing school where many, many dreams do come true!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We are fortunate to be living here when we found out our child's diagnosis of apraxia. As previously mentioned by another reviewer, the school really does make the mold fit the child, not the child fit the mold. My child has blossomed, gaining confidence and skills that I know she would not have received anywhere else. It is an amazing place with caring staff. Recommend them very highly.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have three daughters ranging from 1 - 7. My 7 year old was a part of the LOFT program and pre-school at St. Rita's before moving onto kindergarden at a different school. Ever since she left St. Rita's she has been advanced for her age group. Her reading skills are near the top of her class and she is quick to understand difficult topics including math and science. I contribute her success to the foundations created at St. Rita's. Additionally, the gift of learning a second laungage at such a young age is priceless. My youngest daughter cannot talk yet - but she can use ASL to communicate her basic needs. This is why I continue to send my two younger daughters through the program. I would highly recommend St. Rita's as a top-knotch educationaly institution.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son started going to St. Rita's when he was just over a year old, he had been diagnosed with a mild hearing loss at birth that progressed to a moderate-severe loss so we decided to enroll him in their LOFT I program for one year olds. It was by far the best decision we have ever made for him. He continues to soar acedemically and impress everyone he meets with his knowledge and signing ability. The teachers and staff there genuinely care about each child and the love and respect that the kids have for them is absolutely evident. He is now in the LOFT II program for the two year olds and just keeps amazing us (and all of our family) with how much he is learning. I can't say enough about the wonderful things St. Rita's has done for him and us, they are an absolutely amazing school and facility in general. My son is keeping up developmentally with his fully hearing peers in the developmental milestones forms from the doctors and agencies we work with, and in some cases is more advanced in his development than expected. I know that he would not be doing so well if he weren't going to St. Rita's.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is in his second year at St. Rita School for the Deaf. There are no words to express how much St. Rita's has done for my son. He went from crying all the time with no speech, to expressing what he wants using signs and words. He is now a totally different child, he is happy. I drive a total of 94.20 miles a day to take him to and from the school. I will continue to do this because of the greatness of the school. The teachers are amazing with the children. They treat every child with Love and Respect. Thank you to everyone at St. Rita, you have forever changed our lives!!

Client Served

Rating: 4

ST RITA SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF HAS BEEN A PLACE OF CARING, SOLICE, AND LAST SOURCE FOR MY SON! MY CHILD NEVER FIT INTO A MOLD, AND ST RITA MADE THE MOLD FIT HIM. WE HAD DISASTROUS EXPERIENCE TRYING TO MAINSTREAN MY SON, AND WHEN WE WERE LUCKY ENOUGH TO LIVE IN THE SAME CITY AS ST RITA IS LOCATED, IT BECAME A PLACE OF LAST RESORT, AND NOW IT IS A PLACE OF COMFORT AND PROVIDES THE SUPPORT TO ALLOW MY SON TO REALIZE ALL HIS GOALS AND GIVES HIM THE POSSIBILITY TO BE THE BEST PERSON HE CAN BE. THE STAFF AND OTHER PEOPLE INVOLVED PROVIDE THE TYPE OF ENVIORMENT TO MOTIVATE, CHALLENGE AND SUPPORT THEIR STUDENTS, WHILE ALLOWING THEM TO HAVE THE EXPERIENCE OF A DEAF COMMUNITY FOR THE SHORT TIME THEY HAVE IN SCHOOL, AND READIES THEM FOR THE "REAL WORLD". WITHOUT ST RITA I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE WOULD HAVE DONE. HE HAS GROWN AND IS GROWING INTO A VERY COMPENTENT YOUNG MAN. THE STRUCTURE THAT THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL PROVIDES ALONG WITH THEIR SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE AND HISTORY OF EDUCATING THE DEAF MAKES THEM A SPECIAL PLACE THAT HAS SERVED MANY AND WILL CONTINUE WITH HELP TO EDUCATE AND PREPARE THE DEAF COMMUNITY FOR LIFE OUTSIDE THE WALLS AND LOVING HANDS OF ST RITA SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF!!