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A child is much more than just a diagnosis — St. Joseph’s School staff recognized for work to support students with Autism

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
St. Joseph’s School principal Mark Lugli stands proudly with his staff after recieving the Lois Mahon, Real People Doing Exceptional Things Award from Child and Community Resources. Photo by Samantha Hawkins

By Samantha Hawkins

St. Joseph’s School in Dryden has been recognized by Child and Community Resources (CCR) for their exceptional work with children and families, and received the Lois Mahon, Real People Doing Exceptional Things Award after being nominated by CCR Clinical Supervisor Tara Montague.

Montague works through the Autism program at CCR and began visiting the school in May of this year to support one student with autism and was overwhelmed with the support she received from Principal Mark Lugli and the staff at St. Joseph’s.

“Often we’re given a small space to work in, which is all some schools have to offer, and Mark could really say that as well, their school is packed, they offered us a classroom, they rolled out the red carpet and said ‘because we have so many students with autism that need this and we have so many staff that will benefit from the training and the expertise through our doors, why would we put you in a closet?’”

Going above and beyond for not only the students, but assisting the entire family with resources, support and even transportation arrangements is exactly why the CCR nomination committee looked at every nominee from Sudbury to the Manitoba border and unanimously decided that St. Joseph’s School should be this year’s recipient says Montague.

“Really they just go above and beyond to ensure that every child is included in their classroom and has best opportunities. The nomination committee unanimously decided that St. Joseph’s School represented by Mark Lugli, but also just the entire teaching staff went above and beyond and should be the recipients.”

Lugli’s compassion impressed Montague even further when he came to accept the award and brought the majority of his staff with him.

“The award was given to me as the principal,” Lugli explains, “but I wanted my frontline people to be involved in receiving the award because they’re the ones that do the work on the ground level and we have just exceptional people at our school.”

Exceptionality is seemingly the norm at St. Joseph’s as Lugli modestly admitted in working with CCR, they provided space and met with families, but simply did what they normally do when working with children with special needs.

“Kids that come in that are autistic, obviously it involves a lot of extra time a lot of extra resources, a lot of trying to figure out the pieces to the puzzle, but the investment that we put into the kids with special needs, those pay out in dividends because those are the kids that literally blossom and we get so much reward at the end of the day when they leave our school when we see how they came into our school and how they left our school. I know come Grade 8 grad those are the kids that really make an impact on us as educators.”

 

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