view:  full / summary

History and function of Adele School for Special Children

Posted by specialadele on June 10, 2015 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Special education for the developmentally disabled was initiated in Antigua in 1970 by Dr. Adele and Bernard Savoury both of Canadian origin. Because of their concern for a particular Down ’s syndrome child, the Savoury’s decided to provide special educational instruction for this child in their home.

Within the next few years several students were added, including one child from Nevis. In June 1973 interested parents and community members founded the Association for Retarded citizens (ARC), which acted as a sponsor for the school.

With the continual growth in the student population, the church of Christ on Scott’s hill was used to accommodate the school from 1974 to 1978. Adele Savoury in her continual commitment to the school initiated training programmes for volunteer workers as well as screening programmes for prospective students. During this time there was one full time teacher working on a volunteer basis. Bonnie Schonfied, a missionary from the United States. Additional instruction was provided by volunteers such as Mike and Brenda Diskin(missionaries). Mrs Lorna Charles, Mrs Elnora Lake and Mrs Eunice Savoury (mother in law of Adele Savoury).

The school at this time was known as the Antigua Association for the Mentally Retarded training and Information Centre.

1975 marked the school’s first paid full time teacher Mrs. Viella Williams received her salary from the ARC. At this time two additional teachers were sent for further training in special education to St. Coletta School (Jefferson, Wisconsin, USA). In 1976 the trained teachers were employed by the Ministry of Education.

The school was renamed Adele School for Special Children in honour of Adele Savoury shortly after her death on 27th May 1977. In 1978 Adele School was established as a governmental school under the jurisdiction of the ministry of education at which time the school was moved to the basement of the Catholic Church across from the Ministry on Church Street. In 1979 the school was relocated at the Antigua girl’s high school before finally settling at the present location of Cemetery Road in 1986. The building was bought for the school by the Government in 1991.

The Concept of Special Education emphasizes individual attention to special needs learners. Based on the premise to the school’s best effort to plan an educational programme for each child-receiving special education services is represented by the Individual education Plan (IEP)

At the beginning of each school year individual teachers plan new IEP’s with due consideration to student progress during the preceding year. Such plans is dependant on available facilities and student specific needs, as evidenced by formal and informal assessments and clearly articulate the curriculum content to be provided.

Essentially, the IEP recognizes the following concerns:

The child’s present level of: Functioning, Annual instructional objectives, Method of evaluating students Progress and Annual achievement.

Student progress is important in any learning situation; hence there is a continuous monitoring system which provides incentives for student motivation and ultimately greater levels of learning.

An attempt is made to make students as optimally rounded as possible by an exposure to the arts; physical training, music and movement and drama. These are mediums through which students can develop fine and gross motor skills, self expression and self awareness.

Adele is the only government school on the Island that caters for children with specific educational needs. The student population is forever increasing and need for further expansion to the curriculum is evident.

Through advocating for private sponsorship, the school has acquired a hot meal program, a safe outside play area, computers and appropriate software.

Adele is active in its community, taking every opportunity to integrate the students and expose the talents and skills that they all possess.

We take part in literacy Activities, Sports Activities, Disability Awareness activities, Independence and cultural activities. During the summer time we take part in Antigua’s carnival celebrations, by acquiring sponsorship and volunteers from the wider community, we develop and design our own ‘Mas troupe’ for children’s carnival.

The school receives basic supplies from the Board of Education but lacks many appropriate materials. Teachers use their creativity in designing and making multi sensory materials to be used by the students.



We currently have 81 students on role with multiple challenges. These include:

a. Downs Syndrome

b. Autism

c. Aspergers

d. CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder).


f. Dyslexia

g. Perceptual Pervasive Disorders

h. Visually Impaired/Hearing Impaired

i. Developmental Delay

j. Emotional Behavioural disorders

k. Cerebral Palsy

l. Spinal Bifida

Many of the students are manifesting symptoms of multiple challenges and many have been diagnosed by observation only, where tendencies are evident but not conclusive.

The Staff comprises of 10 teachers and 4 aides.

There are 6 physical classrooms and where possible they are broken up into smaller classes within one physical space. The smallest class size is 9 and the largest 21. They are grouped taking into account social abilities and general cognitive skills.

We focus on literacy and mathematical skills adding other subject areas as they are relevant to the individual student. Life skills training is also part of our curriculum.

We currently cater to students from 5 – 21+ years which creates many challenges as we are in a relatively small physical space.

We have been advocating for some time to develop a secondary section that would serve as a vocational skills training centre for those children of 12/14 + years. We have requested that the Amazing Grace building be considered as a possible option for this facility as a small market garden could be developed as well as other job training skills for our students and others in the communities who may require this service.



Below is a list of some of the services offered by the staff of the Adele School

1. We provide a safe and friendly environment that is free from the stresses of peer competition and unrealistic expectations.

2. We nurture their abilities and strengths and build upon them opposed to focusing on their disabilities.

3. We develop IEP’s (Individual Education Plans) so the student can work at their own pace.

4. We provide the students with strategies that will help them to accept and cope with their disabilities in everyday life.

5. Through practice we teach functional literacy and numeracy so the student can survive in the environment of today’s world.

6. We teach life skills that will enable independent living when they leave the safety of the classroom.

7. We provide emotional support and mentoring to help them overcome psychological hang ups.

8. We provide access to medical services to ensure their health needs are met.

9. We teach pre vocational skills in preparation for gainful employment.

10. We provide love, food, guidance, structure and discipline the ultimate needs of any child.

11. We create opportunities for the student to showcase their talents.

12. We provide parental support and create opportunities for parents to meet with others who face similar challenges through PTA meetings.

13. We facilitate opportunities for parents to be heard through one voice as a team.

14. We create opportunities for students to experience participation in social events with support.