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

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.


What You Should Know About Notre Dame School of Dallas

Organizational Values

Notre Dame School is under the sponsorship of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Central Pacific Province whose mission is expressed through ministry directed towards education. For the School Sisters of Notre Dame education means enabling persons to reach the fullness of their potential as individuals created in God’s image and assisting them in using their gifts to the best of their ability.

Notre Dame School believes each child is a unique individual who should have the opportunity to develop to his/her potential in an atmosphere of love and genuine concern.

As a Catholic educational institution, Notre Dame of Dallas believes in providing a Christian educational environment, which prepares students to be integrated into society.
We believe in the philosophy of inclusion demonstrated through activities to enhance interactions with the broader community.

Learning with love

One of the unique elements of a Notre Dame education is the opportunity to form meaningful, lasting friendships. Through these friendships and our unique education model, our students gain confidence and independence.

The Notre Dame Lower School ages 6-15

Emphasizing functional academics, including math, reading, science, social studies and daily living skills. Throughout the lower school, appropriate behavior and the development of social skills is emphasized.

The Notre Dame School Primary Program ages 6-10

In the Primary Program there is one self- contained classroom with a teacher and an assistant. In addition to the standard curriculum, students receive communication skills, music, readiness activities, as well as fine motor, gross motor, music and art.

Bridges (ages 15-18) is designed to meet the unique academic and social needs of adolescents with developmental disabilities.

These students are transitioning from a primarily academic curriculum to one that emphasizes career exploration and social skills development. Students explore their career interests and begin to develop the independent living skills that will help them to live and work in their communities. They participate in community training and job exploration at off campus sites at least twice a week. In addition they continue with their functional academics in reading, math and social studies during the morning.

Preparation for Independent Living

Vocational students are prepared for independent living through a comprehensive functional curriculum that includes independent living skills, functional academics and targeted job training based upon student’s interests and abilities. The vocational training program is supplemented by functional academic training in reading, math and  daily living skills training. Students work off-campus in both paid and non-paid job internships.

In our new STARs Program, students have the opportunity to participate in additional years of vocational training. This would include on the job training as well as continued functional academic training.

Notre Dame School of Dallas Reviews + More

Notre Dame School is accredited by the Texas Catholic Conference Education Department. Notre Dame School is approved by the Texas Education Agency. Notre Dame is also recognized as a School of Excellence by the National Association of Special Educators. Notre Dame School is recognized as a Common Sense School and a SMART Exemplary School.

Parent Testimonials

“Clinton has grown up to be an honorable and delightful person with an active daily faith. His opportunities at the school would never have been available at a public school.”

“Matthew is gaining confidence and independence…His interests have broadened, and he is smiling again!”

“What Notre Dame has given our daughter – and is uniquely able to give her – is a sense of her accomplishments instead of her limitations.”

“Everyone is amazed that Sarah is no longer so reticent in her speech. She is conversing with family and friends in detailed narratives.”

“One of the things that we are most excited about is how John is making friends at Notre Dame. This is something that has been very difficult for him in the past.”

“I cannot tell you how much I loved and enjoyed the program last night! The hope and possibilities NDS brings for my Joshua are immeasurable!”

Upcoming Events

Open House for Prospective Families- October 24 at 9:00. Please contact the office at 214-720-3911 or by email at [email protected]

An Affair of the Heart 2019 “A Southern Soiree”- Saturday, November 2, 2019 at 6:30 PM – 10:30 PM at Renaissance Dallas Hotel – Grand Ballroom- Benefiting the Notre Dame School of Dallas   Honorary Chairs –  Shelly and Tom Codd      Event Chair – Barb Louviere
Cocktails & Dinner- Silent & Live Auction- Casino & Dancing- Live Music by Remedy

About Special Strong

Special Strong provides nutrition and adapted fitness for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism, Down syndrome, and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs certification courses for educators, professionals, and parents who want to learn how to adapt fitness to serve the special needs population.