PHOENIX, AZ (March 5, 2020) — In a new publication co-written by Colleen McCoy-Cejka and colleague Crystal Brooks, Catholic schools are given a framework for program development to serve students with various levels of need. Setting the Table: A Guide for Diversified Learner Program Development in Catholic Schools was released by the National Catholic Education Association in October 2019.

A featured NCEA publication in January 2020, Setting the Table provides a roadmap for educators and school leaders who are looking to organize their approach or are venturing into new territory. McCoy-Cejka and Brooks will debut the Framework at the Exceptional Learners NCEA Post-Conference April 17-18, 2020 in Baltimore this spring.

“When parents of a child with Down syndrome requested a meeting asked, ‘Which Catholic schools are able to educate our child?’ everything changed,” says McCoy-Cejka, former assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Phoenix. From that day on, she worked to find ways to help schools meet diverse learning needs.

“It was a group of resource teachers and interventionists at the schools who requested a framework. During a meeting, we started brainstorming. What developed from that conversation became the focus in Setting the Table,” recalls McCoy-Cejka.

Brooks, amidst doctoral work on special education in Catholic schools, provided data, research, and assessments that round out the Framework at the center of the book. Brooks recalls, “Developing the book was a natural process because we were in touch with the needs of the folks in the trenches. Colleen has the leadership perspective, and I provided a practitioner’s lens. It’s balanced and practical.”

The book asserts that students with mild to moderate disabilities are already in all classrooms, so formalizing an approach to serve all learning needs is necessary. Catholic doctrine asserts that the mission of Catholic schools is to serve all families that desire a Catholic education. Setting the Table (which follows Michael Boyle’s 2018 NCEA publication Ensuring a Place at the Table) leads Catholic educators through the development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions and structuring programs.

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