I pored over reviews. I visited the schools. But the tip that steered the course of my son’s education? It came from a stranger in a speech therapy waiting room.
My son Luke has Fragile X syndrome. The genetic condition creates challenges with learning and focus. But Luke also has an incredible personality. He’s vibrant, funny, and loving.
The kindergartens I visited didn’t seem to notice that. In fact, they hardly acknowledged Luke at all. No one seemed excited to meet him, and nobody seemed to know what to do with him. The school search left me feeling unhappy and overwhelmed.
Until I got a new tip. Luke and I were attending a speech therapy session at Holy Redeemer Hospital. Parents were discussing education, and one mother mentioned that her daughter loved Our Lady of Confidence Day School. With hopes high, I called the school the very next day.
When we visited, the difference was striking. The rooms were inviting. The teachers spoke directly to Luke. And the school aimed to educate students to their full potential — rather tucking them away as outsiders with disabilities. Our family was thrilled.
“When we visited, the difference was striking. The rooms were inviting. The teachers spoke directly to Luke. And the school aimed to educate students to their full potential.”
Over the past nine years, that excitement has grown. Every day, Luke comes home gushing with stories of what he’s learned. He talks about his computer classes, his religion lessons, and his class’s visit to a local chocolate factory. He’s active in gym, occupational therapy, and Mass.
Luke loves going to school, and he is loved while he is there.
I know OLC’s teachers and administration work hard to make it that way. They truly want to see students succeed. Mrs. Watkins at OLC knows Luke loves Snoopy — and has made him Snoopy-themed banners for his birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Their joy is shared daily.
As a parent, this brings me incredible relief. Academics are important, but I’m most proud of how Luke is becoming a self-assured, well-mannered young man. Next year, he’ll switch to OLC’s site at Bishop McDevitt High School. But he’s not nervous — he’s excited for the future, because he’s always felt welcome.
I am grateful to have found a school where we can build strong educational foundations — and relationships. I’ve even volunteered with the same mom who first recommended OLC to me so long ago. Our network of parents grows closer with each fundraiser, Friendsgiving, and trunk or treat.
Together, we’re learning to grow, celebrating every success. Because life’s most exciting moments can begin with the smallest of gestures: a drawing of Snoopy, a visit to a chocolate factory, or a chance encounter in a waiting room.
Jennifer lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband Kevin and their children Elizabeth and Luke.