Source: Times-Record View Original Article here
Benedictine School in Ridgely recently earned a two-year accreditation through 2020 from the National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services.
The accreditation places the Benedictine School among 26 institutions in the nation to receive the honor out of about 200 special education schools.
As a national commission that verifies and promotes excellence in education service, NCASES evaluates private special education programs through a process that encourages diversity of educational practice and innovation. The process assures students in private special education settings are provided environments that are healthy, safe, comfortable and conducive to learning.
“It is a validation of what we do and who we are,” said Benedictine School Education Director Julie Hickey. “We are providing really quality services and following best practices.
“Accreditation says you do it in one of the best ways you can do it,” she said. “We are really proud of it. A lot of people put in a lot of hard work for the school to earn this achievement.”
The accreditation process reviews all aspects the school’s program, which includes a co-ed day and residential educational program for individuals ages 5-21 with intellectual disabilities, multiple disabilities and autism. The review requires adherence to not only state and federal laws and regulations, but industry standards as well. Benedictine joins four other Maryland schools that have achieved this accreditation.
The Benedictine School has 64 students enrolled with eight day students and 56 students living on campus or in community-based group houses. The students come from the entire Mid-Atlantic region, including Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“Our staff really makes Benedictine what it is,” Hickey said. “Our students have really intense needs. Our staff is very passionate.
“They give extra of themselves every day to give the students what they need,” she said. “They bring their creativity, their compassion, their dedication to work every day. That makes us who we are.”
The NCASES accreditation comes as an additional industry accolade as the school currently is certified by The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for its day program and The Department of Human Services (DHR) for its residential program, with several group homes licensed by The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).
Hickey said community involvement is a big part of the accreditation.
“We give our community resources, such as a place for college interns to learn things that they may not learn in our settings,” she said. “Our students can interact with the community, and the community is extremely welcoming to our students. We’ve formed great partnerships with local schools and businesses.”