Notre Dame School of Dallas: No Limits, Just Possibilities – Alex Eckler

Notre Dame School of Dallas

Special Strong is giving local businesses a platform to share how their services can make a difference for people with special needs. This service provider is Notre Dame School of Dallas.

About Notre Dame School of Dallas

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Notre Dame School, recognizing that each person is created in the image of God, educates students with developmental disabilities and facilitates their integration into society.

For over fifty years this mission statement has guided the Notre Dame School as it has served as a unique educational resource in Dallas. The school is the only school exclusively devoted to educating students with developmental disabilities. The school’s individualized curriculum ensures that each child’s needs are met in a caring and appropriate way.

Notre Dame School was founded in 1963 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

The School serves students with developmental disabilities ages 6 through 26. Students are grouped according to age and taught at their particular functioning level within their age group. The academic curriculum emphasizes math, science, reading, social studies and language arts. Music, PE, computer and religion classes are offered to all students. Independent living skills, job skills and career exploration are important elements in the upper school. Christian values and attitudes are taught in all classes. Catholic students are involved in sacramental preparation as appropriate.

The student teacher ratio is low (10 students to two teachers) at Notre Dame and all teachers have a college degree as well as experience working with students with special needs. Notre Dame School is very fortunate to have volunteers from the community, including the youth from area Catholic schools, who come on a regular basis to work and interact with the students in their classrooms.

Positive discipline is used as a means of teaching and encouraging students to develop self-control and responsibility. The main program used, “Project Career” is an effective reward system that encourages appropriate behavior as well as teaching basic budgeting skills. The students are “paid” daily for appropriate behavior; they are fined for unacceptable behavior.

Notre Dame is a loving and caring campus. One of the unique elements of a Notre Dame education is the opportunities available to form meaningful and lasting friendships. A wide range of extracurricular activities are offered to encourage these friendships and foster independence.

How Notre Dame School of Dallas Got Its Start

Notre Dame School was founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the fall of 1963

They started with only 19 students. At that time, there were no classroom programs for students with intellectual disabilities in Dallas.  In 1972 when the school moved to the University of Dallas campus, enrollment had grown to 108 students aged 6 to 12.  In 1973, a vocational component was added to the school programs to serve the needs of older students aged 13 to 21.  Notre Dame moved to its current location in the Uptown area of Dallas in 1989.  This central location has allowed for expansion and offers additional opportunities for vocational training.  The school currently serves over 160 students aged 6 to 26.

A History of The School Sisters of Notre Dame

The congregation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) is an international community of religious women. The order was founded by Blessed Theresa Gehardinger in 1833 in Regensburg, Germany. The School Sisters of Notre Dame are educators to whom education means enabling persons to reach the fullness of their potential as individuals created in God’s image and assisting them to direct their gifts toward building the earth.

The School Sisters of Notre Dame began as educators and continue as educators. Now located throughout the world, SSNDs serve in a variety of ministries, grounded in the concept of transforming the world through education in the broadest sense.

Notre Dame School is a private school within the diocese of Dallas.

The school is owned by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The school is run by a two tiered board of which the SSNDs are the trustees.


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