facts about St. Michael’s Special Education School:
- Ages served: 2 -23 years old (Students only leave the school when their condition and ability allows; depending on the circumstances, some students may even stay into their late 20’s.)
- Facility description: A 20-acre campus comprises classrooms and community rooms.
- Education: For students who are able to participate in academics, core curriculum is studied. Each course is tailored to fit their capabilities. Instruction is provided by the school’s eight certified teachers, aided by 28 volunteer “para-educators,” who are special education teachers-in-training.
- Workshops: Students receive vocational/special skills training in such areas as leather-working, ceramics, weaving, and silver-smithing.
- Therapy: Advanced techniques in physical, occupational, and speech therapy are available to the children, some of whom compete in the annual Special Olympics hosted by St. Michael’s.
- Boarding and group homes: Both day and boarding students belong to “Group Homes,” with seven children and two adults in each.
- Medical assistance: The Public Health Service offers free medical care as needed.
- Funding: Financial assistance comes primarily from private sources (civic clubs and individual donors), but the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and local public schools also provide funding. Tuition is free.
- Nutrition: Nutritious meals are provided each day.
The remote community of St. Michaels is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, only a few miles from the New Mexico border. The Reservation comprises more than 27,000 square miles of spectacular but inhospitable countryside, extending into both Utah and New Mexico. Despite its massive scale and rich cultural heritage, residents of the Reservation are desperately poor. There is virtually no employment. Broken homes, alcoholism, and inadequate food are constant manifestations of poverty.
But for the children at the nonprofit, St. Michael’s Special Education School, poverty is almost the lesser of two evils. These Navajo children’s disabilities make conventional schooling impractical or impossible. For this reason, St. Michael’s School serves as a beacon of hope, where every child receives sound educational support, nutritious meals, and encouragement. The school’s devoted and highly-trained staff provides students here with the personal attention they need – and an opportunity to rise above the difficult economic and individual challenges they face.