The Father Colin School: Opening August 2017


Sophia Academy joins with Notre Dame Academy to establish the Father Colin School  

DULUTH, GEORGIA (January 4, 2017) - The Notre Dame Academy Board of Trustees and the Sophia Academy Board of Trustees are pleased to announce that Sophia Academy will be joining with Notre Dame Academy in August 2017. With the merger, the two schools will operate under the Notre Dame Academy name on the school’s newly expanded campus located in Duluth, Georgia. The merger will establish Notre Dame Academy as Atlanta's only Independent Catholic institution serving children of all learning abilities in grades preschool through high school.

By combining the two schools, Notre Dame Academy will be able to increase access and engagement for all students by identifying and removing barriers to learning, based on Catholic social teachings. The school is committed to the common good by striving to balance individual rights and the interest of the wider society. 

Founded in 1999, Sophia Academy is an Atlanta-based Marist Catholic school, serving children with learning differences. Sophia Academy presently serves students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. 

Founded in 2005, Notre Dame Academy is a Marist Catholic and International Baccalaureate (IB) World School located in Duluth, Georgia. Notre Dame Academy presently serves 576 students in four divisions: Early Years (Pre-K2 through Kindergarten), Lower School (grades 1-5), Middle School (grades 6-8) and Upper School (grades 9 and 10), and is currently enrolling students through 11th grade for the 2017-18 school year.

A newly designated fifth division to Notre Dame Academy will be created with the merger of the two schools. The new division will be named the Father Colin School for the founder of the Society of Mary, Father Jean-Claude Colin, S.M. (1790-1875). Both Notre Dame Academy and Sophia Academy currently operate under the Catholic order of the Society of Mary (along with their sister school, Marist School in Atlanta).  

“The Father Colin School will embrace the unique gifts of children with learning differences and will embody the spirit of the mission of the Society of Mary, which strives to be humble, loving, compassionate, open, inclusive and merciful,” said Father John Harhager, President of Marist School, Chairman of the Sophia Academy Board of Trustees and Board member at Notre Dame Academy.  

Notre Dame Academy is recognized for providing an IB college-prep educational track for traditional learners set within a Catholic environment, while Sophia Academy is best known for their small class sizes and individualized instruction for children with learning differences. The Chicago-based Loyola University Center for Inclusive Catholic Education will provide support as Notre Dame Academy establishes an inclusive teaching model that supports and addresses the individual needs and education of each child with all learning abilities, from traditional to exceptional learners.

“We are honored to partner with the administration, board and families of Sophia Academy in this important endeavor,” said Debra Orr, Head of School at Notre Dame Academy. “Our goal is to keep families together by providing an inclusive educational campus where students of all abilities can prepare for the world and life.”

The Father Colin School is set to open on the campus of Notre Dame Academy in August 2017. Notre Dame Academy will work closely with Sophia Academy to assist existing Sophia Academy students and families as they transition to the new location in Duluth. Prospective families who are interested in learning more about the full educational track of learning options available at Notre Dame Academy can learn more at (678-387-9385) or (404-303-8722). 




What is an Inclusive Education?

A school that embraces inclusion adopts a teaching philosophy that supports and addresses the individual needs of each child. Research has demonstrated that effective models of inclusive education not only benefit students with disabilities but also create an environment in which every student, including those who do not have disabilities, has the opportunity to flourish.

Mirenda (2002) found that effective instructional options for inclusive classrooms facilitate the academic and social success of students both with and without disabilities.

Friend (2012) found that standardized test scores in co-taught classrooms are higher for all students as compared to students enrolled in gen-ed classes.

Why is Inclusion more than a place?

“Place” is not the key issue to successful inclusion. A continuum of placement options creates the best learning environment for all. Battles (1994) suggests that the goal of inclusion is not to simply place all students in the general education classrooms, but to evaluate each student on an individual basis to determine if he/she will benefit from educational services provide in the general education classroom. One placement option will not suffice for the educational needs of all students. The responsibility lies with the school and a multi-disciplinary team to evaluate the strengths and needs of each student and place them where the student will find the greatest success.