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A Helping Hand: Ask and Receive from Seton’s Special Services


Seton Special Services can help children with learning difficulties succeed academically by working with families and making modifications in the courses.

Several years ago, a student mistook the meaning of Seton Home Study School’s Special Services Department and called to ask if she could enroll in the program and learn how to parachute from airplanes.

The Special Services Department doesn’t teach skydiving, but it does help students soar in their academics.

As the Seton website tells readers, “this department works to help children with a range of difficulties, such as ADHD, Down Syndrome, and dyslexia.” In addition to working with students who have learning disabilities, Special Services can also assist students in the regular program if necessary. After working with the Seton counselors, if a particular subject presents an insurmountable problem, Special Services could modify the course to address the need.

Helping Your Child Succeed

The director of this department, Stephen Costanzo, wants parents and students to know that he and his staff can help children with learning difficulties succeed academically by working with them and by making modifications in the courses.

“Many of these students needing this help are those in the elementary grades who have trouble writing book reports,” Costanzo says. “A lot of kids coming to Seton have read little and written almost nothing. They lack the skills to take on the reports. We work with them, adjusting the reading levels and adapting the book review forms and requirements to their level.”

Changes for the Better

Stephen brings 20 years of experience to this task. He double-majored in religion and psychology at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

After graduating in 2000, he entered the University of Virginia and in 2002 earned his master’s in special education. For two years, he worked in Richmond in the public school system, and in August 2004 joined the staff at Seton.

Since then, Stephen has seen several changes in the Special Services Department. When he first came on board, Special Services students were mostly using texts and workbooks provided by outside publishers.

Gradually, Stephen and his colleagues have made it possible for these students to use Seton materials. A high school student weak in composition, for example, would today read an adapted version of A Tale of Two Cities, but would then receive a modified writing assignment regarding the book.

Stephen also notes that the number of students with dyslexia has increased over the years. He attributes some of this increase to better diagnostic tests and also wonders whether the reading programs in other schools have failed some of these young people.

An Extra Value

Stephen also points out that all students, fully enrolled in the Seton program, may, at no additional charge, take one of the modified courses offered by his department.

A student doing battle with book reports in a literature class, for instance, can enroll in that course while following the regular Seton syllabus in her other classes.

Because of the surge in enrollments caused by this past year’s pandemic, Stephen and his fellow workers in special services have encouraged parents to upload or mail tests and other work.

This fall the extra fee required for those enrolled full-time in the Seton program will increase $35, bringing the additional charge to grades K-5 students to $185 and grades 6-12 students to $260.

To find out more about Seton’s Special Education Services, please visit the website.

A Special tip: Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and read over “Frequently Asked Questions,” where you’ll find information on such topics as enrollment, grades, and independent study for special needs students.

About Jeff Minick

Jeff Minick
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, NC. Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, VA.

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