Student Spotlight:

Abby David; part of the St. Anthony family at St. Mary’s

Abby David was diagnosed with special needs at a young age. So naturally, when it came time for Abby’s parents, Susie and Francis David, to send her off to school, it was scary. But after learning more about St. Anthony School Programs’ inclusive nature and faith-based education, both parents felt a sense of security for their daughter.

Now Abby is an energetic fourth grader at St. Mary’s school in Glenshaw, Pa. She has been with St. Anthony since she was in kindergarten.

“Abby is able to participate in everything the school offers with St. Anthony,” Susie said. “They try to be inclusive in everything they do.”

In addition to the inclusive classes the school offers, Susie and Francis were drawn to the small class sizes, and experienced teachers. “Everyone is there for the kids,” Susie said. “The teachers love these kids like they’re their own.”

By placing their daughter in a Catholic school, Susie and Francis hoped that the general education students would be understanding of Abby’s difficulties and help build her confidence. “We knew that putting her into faith-based education would be great for her,” Francis said. “The kids are really compassionate.”

Abby starts her day in the school’s resource room, she then attends inclusive classes such as social studies, music, and science. She gets to eat lunch with her friends, play at recess, and she even reads to kindergarteners in her downtime. “She loves school,” Susie said. “This is an amazing fit for her and she knows exactly what’s expected of her.”

Abby’s favorite subject is math. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys playing basketball and baseball, and with her American Girl dolls.

“When you have a child with special needs you have a great appreciation for every day,” Susie said. “You have to be able to say, ‘today is a good day.’”

Susie and Francis are excited to see the progress their daughter has made and are diligent in bringing their kindergarten-aged son Nathan along to St. Anthony events. The siblings share a loving bond and often play and talk together. Nathan loves coming to St. Anthony events like the Inclusive Games and cheering his big sister on.

Abby will continue to participate in St. Mary’s and St. Anthony events as she grows up and continues to become more independent. “I can’t say enough good things about the program,” Susie said. “It takes a village to make this program work, and we have found that family with St. Anthony.”

Susie and Francis feel confident knowing Abby has a place to continue her education—all the way to Duquesne University if she wants to. “We are so fortunate to have found such a supportive place for Abby,” Francis said.