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By Kristen Rodriguez

gandara-christyRIVERSIDE—On May 20, Mrs. Christy Gandara, fourth grade teacher at St. Catherine of Alexandria School in Riverside, received the Dandy Award for Spring 2019. The Dandy Award, given twice a year by the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, recognizes individuals within Catholic schools who promote inclusion. 

 As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I assumed that my youngest child would have to attend public school, enroll in a special education class, and be separated from her siblings who have attended St. Catherine’s for years. The idea of having her separated from our faith community, and at a different school, saddened me. 

 With Mrs. Gandara’s encouragement, St. Catherine School has welcomed my youngest child, Lillian, and has even gone above and beyond to obtain additional professional development in how to create inclusive classrooms. 

 For additional details regarding the award, nomination, and current focus on inclusion at St. Catherine’s please contact me at k.rodriguez1421@hotmail.com, or Principal Enrique Landin. More information can also be obtained from Beth Foraker, founder of the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion.