Hungarian Americans of Cleveland

Cleveland Press Articles

Nuns at St. Emeric Teach Children Who Must Try ...and Try... and Try

By Bob Modic
Cleveland Press, May 8 1964

A tall, spindling boy of 12 stood at his desk and recited proudly, "the Frog's eggs hatched and they became tadpoles."

Across the hall, a black garbed nun prompted her class of 9-to-13-year-olds, "Yesterday we went to church. Yesterday was.... That's right, yesterday was Sunday."

These are scenes in St. Emeric School, 1904 W. 22d St., where, under patient pleasant-voiced teaching, youngsters are learning as best they can.

Three Years Ago, two young nuns walked into the old building and began to organize a school for these children. One was Sister Fidelia, who is both principal and teacher; the other was Sister Dismas.

An example of the way they tackled their new task was the time they gazed unhappily at the school's barren playroom and decided something had to be done. They got hammers, nails and boards and, after school, the two nuns built a row of cabinets and a colorfully-decorated playhouse for the youngsters.

Today 60 children are brought to the school each morning by their parents from all over Cleveland and as far away as Bay Village, Lakewood and Garfield Heights. It is the only Catholic school for mentally retarded children in the Cleveland diocese. Half of the pupils are not Catholic, however.

"We are here to help children," Sister Fidelia explains. Among them are some learning to talk, others who now can read. In the classrooms, the children seem to be bubbling over with happy excitement and lessons often are halted for play.

"They are such happy children," said the soft-voiced principal. "And they learn so much better when there is no pressure on them to try to keep up with other children."

The school staff has increased to four with the addition of Sisters Liguori and Christopher.

All are trained teachers. Both sister Fidelia and Sister Liguori are studying for their master's degrees in special education at Western Reserve University.

Expense of operating the school are considerably more than the $20 monthly fees that parents are asked to pay. That is why there is to be benefit night for St. Emeric School at the Lake Shore Hotel, 12506 Edgewater Dr., Lakewood, tomorrow starting at 8 p.m.

It will be a Las Vegas-style benefit sponsored by the 145th Infantry Regiment Organization. Many sports, radio and television figures are expected to be there to help. Funds will go to the school to buy new desks and a station wagon to use for class trips.