Loyola University Chicago

All Are Welcome

“All Are Welcome” is an initiative designed to systematically support Catholic school principals to become innovative and creative in ways to meet the needs of all children within the Catholic school setting.  This initiative is a partnership between the Andrew M. Greeley Center for Education, Aspire, an agency with a history of supporting individuals with disabilities in the community and the Big Shoulders Fund. The goal is to provide education, professional development and support to Catholic school principals to help ensure that “All Are Welcome” in their schools.  

The goal is to provide education and professional development of Catholic School Principals who are the leaders with the ability to promote change and assure that “All Are Welcome” in their schools.   Through a four component collaborative approach between the Greeley Center for Catholic Education, Aspire and the Big Shoulders Fund, Catholic schools can build the necessary supports to create inclusive environments.

Component 1: Building Knowledge Base: A series of graduate level courses focusing on children with special needs, identifying and designing academic and behavioral supports to facilitate success for all students, and leading inclusionary Catholic Schools.

Component 2: Building Experiential Base: Principals complete an externship, in coordination with Aspire, which would give them significant interactions with children with disabilities, their families and service providers that support children with disabilities. Working with an Externship Coordinator, principals develop a personalized externship plan that would provide them the experiences to meet their experiential goals. 

Component 3: Building Local Capacity: Upon completion of the externship, principals work with the Greeley Center, Aspire and The Big Shoulders Fund to develop a clear vision for change for their school. This includes 1) a professional development plan for their teachers to address the needs of children with disabilities and learning challenges in their school, 2) plans for monitoring their outcomes and needs for continuous improvements, and 3) a plan for the involvement of parents and other interested community partners to be involved in the creation of a plan for sustainability. This component builds the capacity of the school to meet a wide range of learning needs for all students and the need to rely less on external partners.

Component 4: Building Wrap Around Plans: In order to accommodate the individual needs of students with more significant needs a “wrap around” approach can be utilized which taps into the network of services providers among public schools and outside providers. Principals and teachers work under the leadership of Aspire to creatively develop “wrap around plans” to respond to the needs of these students to increase the potential for success in an inclusive learning environment.