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Swope speaks at the event about clas­sical edu­cation and special needs. Morgan Channels | Col­legian

Cheryl Swope pro­vided evi­dence that special-needs children have the potential to succeed aca­d­e­m­i­cally at the same level as any other child Thursday.

Swope, author of “Simply Clas­sical: A Beau­tiful Edu­cation for Any Child,” spoke about her passion for pro­viding children with learning dis­abil­ities the same oppor­tu­nities in edu­cation as other children, including a clas­sical edu­cation.

Swope’s lecture, “Clear and Com­pelling: The (Sur­pris­ingly Strong) Case for Clas­sical Edu­cation with Any Child,” cen­tered on the impor­tance of a clas­sical edu­cation. Swope com­pared a clas­sical edu­cation to a con­tem­porary public edu­cation, empha­sizing the applic­a­bility of a clas­sical edu­cation to stu­dents of all ages and abil­ities.

Swope defined a clas­sical edu­cation as “a for­mative edu­cation designed to incline the student from his ear­liest days to that which is true, good, and beau­tiful through the liberal arts and sci­ences guided by the great lit­er­ature, music, art and ideas of Western Civ­i­lization.”

She said a clas­sical edu­cation ben­efits every student, regardless of their dis­abil­ities.

Swope and her husband adopted two twins at infancy, Michael and Michele, both with dif­ferent dis­abil­ities. Swope has a master’s degree in special edu­cation and is a cer­tified lifetime K-12 state teacher, able to work with children who have learning dis­abil­ities and behavior dis­orders.  Swope said that her passion for speaking about clas­sical edu­cation for all came from her children.

During the lecture, Swope’s voice cracked as a picture of Michael flashed on the pro­jector screen. Now, at 22 years of age, both of her clas­si­cally edu­cated children are thriving young adults, she said.  

She spoke to a room full of faculty, parents, and stu­dents. Senior Hannah Fleming attended the lecture. Having just accepted a teaching position at Good Shepherd Lutheran School in Mankato, Min­nesota, that afternoon, Fleming said Swope’s talk inspired her.

“Hearing her story and seeing the faces of her children was so beau­tiful,” she said. “It made me excited to think about the stu­dents I’ll be teaching next year and the futures they’ll end up pur­suing some day.”

Senior Joshua Lee moved from South Korea to the United States in high school. He attended a clas­sical high school. He said this form of edu­cation inspired him to begin to think about what it means to be a human being, spurring him to ask the “bigger question.” Lee said he later realized that he wanted to teach the way he had been taught because of it grew him.  

“I’ve never even thought about special needs specif­i­cally in the clas­sical edu­cation,” Lee said. “It reminds me again of what I want to do and the purpose of my life.”

Head of Early Childhood Edu­cation and Director of the Mary Proctor Randall Preschool Sonja Bindus said Swope pro­vided excellent insight to the his­torical under­standing of clas­sical edu­cation.  

“Her ded­i­cation to clas­si­cally edu­cating her own special needs children is an inspiring and shining example for fam­ilies, stu­dents, and teachers,” Bindus said.