Students in neighboring west-side schools learn different skills, same lessons
St. Jude School, a K-8 Catholic institution on the west-side of Cincinnati, shares a property line with Margaret B. Rost School, a facility operated by Hamilton County Developmental Disabilities Services. Rost supports students with significant disabilities by providing individualized instruction focusing on functional academics, communication and socialization skills, behavior support, and practical tasks for living and working in the community.
Similar addresses on Bridgetown Road isn’t all these two schools share. For over twenty years,they have partnered together to offer students an opportunity to work, play, and learn from one another. Every week, fifth graders from St. Jude visit Rost School students to participate in art projects, computer lab work, physical fitness activities, and learning dance routines together.
This partnership is an awesome opportunity for St. Jude students to learn more about and gain a better awareness of the necessity of respect for life by working with people of differing abilities, and for the Rost students to interact with young people from their community. Students recognize each other outside of their school settings and have formed friendships that they may never have had an opportunity to do before. Because of the positive impact these interactions have on the students, Cyndie Imfeld and Patty Porter from Rost School, along with Elaine Kroger and Maria Schumacher from St. Jude School, have designed new activities for the students to participate in together throughout the year.
At the invite of Imfeld, the music teacher at Rost, St. Jude’s fifth graders participated in Rost’s inaugural “Move a Thon” last fall. This past October, they joined forces once again for this event, in which all of the students move around the outdoor track while listening to music. This social setting allowed students to learn some interesting facts about each other and build more solid personal relationships. In conjunction with the “Move a Thon”, Rost School collects canned goods to help re-supply Anderson Ferry Food Pantry, and fifth graders from St. Jude have joined in this cause by collecting and adding to Rost’s collection each year.
In February, Rost celebrates “Heart Health” month by doing a Jump Rope for Heart session. St. Jude students participated last year by helping to run stations for Ms. Porter. They kept time for events, counted jumps, and helped students in wheelchairs to move across the ropes. This current group of students is already eagerly anticipating this event.
Last May, Kroger and Schumacher worked with the fifth graders to organize a carnival in order to host the Rost students on their campus. St. Jude students monitored games such as “Punch Out” and “Bingo”, painted faces with mascot pictures, and also did a craft activity together. Students from both schools joined together to play parachute activities in the gym.
Since the beginning of this partnership, every Spring, Rost and St. Jude students have performed an annual concert to showcase what they have learned over the year. Some students sign using the American sign language they have learned throughout the year for songs, while others perform a complex dance routine with the ‘Rocket Rollers’. It is a great celebration to end St. Jude’s time at Rost for the year and to celebrate the many friendships that were formed throughout the year. Both schools look forward to this partnership growing and providing opportunities for more young people to make valuable connections to each other and
positively impact our community.
“At both schools, we work on skills to help the students learn and grow,” says Imfeld. “This isn’t just a good partnership where we work on those skills, it’s a great relationship.”
Kroger adds, “They take care of us and we take care of them. Building those relationships and caring for each other is the lesson that really matters.”
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