Each morning at St. Rita School for the Deaf, you will see two redheads walking down the hallway, ready to start the day. Courtney, on her way to co-teach a class, and her daughter Penelope, a happy 2nd grader. Most days, you can also hear Penelope chatting away as they walk down the hall, but that wasn't always the case.
It became clean early on that Penelope wasn't quite like other babies her age. As she grew, she hit most gross motor milestones, but her speech began to lag behind. When Penelope was 18 months old, both Courtney and her husband, Josh, began to suspect she might be autistic.
Courtney heard about the program at St. Rita and knew children with autism could benefit from American Sign Language (ASL). When looking into the program for her daughter, an opening for a teacher's aide position became available and she jumped on the opportunity to work at her daughter's new school.
After just a year, the flood gates opened and Penelope was using more words every day. "In the first year at St. Rita, she said, 'mommy' for the first time, while looking right at me," Courtney remembered. As the years have gone by, Penelope has benefited from the creative teaching mothos of several teachers. "We are so grateful for everything the staff here at St. Rita has done for our girl, the willingness to go the extra mile."