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Jake Espinosa with his daughter, a student at Veritas Christi.
Nation’s First Catholic Online High School for Special Needs Students Teaches the Ignatian Method

July 27, 2015 — Veritas Christi, the nation’s first Catholic online high school for students with special needs, has teamed up with the Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy (JVLA) to provide online access to the same theology courses taught at Catholic high schools across the country to teenagers with special needs.

“This is a first in the field of Catholic special education online,” said Jesuit Father Don Vettese, a member of the Veritas Christi board of directors. “Veritas Christi joins an impressive list of Catholic high schools nationwide already using JVLA’s excellent curriculum. But Veritas Christi is the first and only Catholic high school to make it available online to kids everywhere with special needs.”

Launched in spring 2011 with online classes for grades 7-12, the independent Catholic school was founded by Richard Nye and Chip Clearwater, who is the principal of the school. In addition to the theology material, the standard, non-religious coursework, including math, science and English, is provided online as well. Veritas Christi will also open a brick-and-mortar school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this fall.

For Nye, who serves as president of the board of directors for Veritas Christi, opening the doors to the school will be a dream come true. A special needs student himself throughout his academic life, he was a teacher for many years in both public and Christian schools. He had always wanted to open a school to serve students with learning challenges.

"My own high school guidance counselor told me not to go to college because I’d never make it — ‘I want to save you from embarrassment,' he said — but I worked my butt off and ended up going to graduate school and becoming a teacher myself," Nye said.

Under the guidance of the local bishop, the school hopes to serve a wide range of students with special needs through both online classes and the campus experience. Acceptance is based on a series of interviews with administration and faculty.

“We are providing kids everywhere who struggle with special needs — and for whom a classroom setting is just not feasible — the same chance every other child has to earn a diploma from a Catholic high school,” Nye said. “We’re happy to announce the opening of a unique Catholic high school for a special group of vulnerable kids.”

The fall online semester at Veritas Christi begins on September 10, 2015. [Sources: Veritas Christi,]

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