The School Moves Up a Grade

Gone are the mismatched desks, the wobbly chairs, and the dings in the drywall. Thanks to a successful investment partnership campaign, generous donors raised more than $200,000 to refurbish Mount Saint Vincent’s 10-year-old Sister Daniel Stefani School and provide it with new furnishings and much-needed equipment. In addition to new desks, carpeting, and updated curriculums, each classroom is now equipped with the very latest in academic technology: interactive whiteboards.

“It feels like we’re celebrating our tenth anniversary in a brand new school,” said School Director Lori McClurg. “The students love the new whiteboards and Zuma rocker chairs. I’d like to give a big thank you to the donors who made our wish a reality.”

“My students were so excited about the new furniture,” said teacher Myra Marcus. “They were actually reluctant to sit on the chairs or use the desks for several days. Of course, they got over that fairly quickly.”

The Sister Daniel Stefani School serves the children in residential treatment at Mount Saint Vincent and also up to 30 additional students from across the Denver metro area. All of the students served suffer from the effects of trauma, mental illness, abuse, or neglect.

Because of their past trauma, many students have difficulty with sensory integration, which is the process of accurately organizing environmental or bodily sensations in order to produce an appropriate stimulus response. Sensory overload can cause frustration, anxiety, or stress. Desk chairs that rock or standing desks equipped with swinging footrests allow fidgety children to stay calm and focus on their schoolwork.

While all the new improvements are much needed, the interactive whiteboards are just about everyone’s favorite new feature. They have games to help with spelling, videos to complement the weekly reader, and timed skills games like math facts. “The touch-screen technology gets students up and out of their seats,” said teacher Molly Priebe. “We’re moving from paper and pencil into a new, interactive way of learning.”

The children expressed a great deal of enthusiasm about their new surroundings. One eight-year-old girl likes her new desk because there’s more room inside. A 12-year-old boy likes the “cool colors” of the carpet and the artwork in the main hallway. “I really like my new chair,” one student said. “Mine helps me stay focused,” another added. A 10-year-old boy may have summed it up best. “Everything is awesome,” he said, “because it’s all brand spanking new!”

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