Clara Govachini: Finding a home with St. Anthony School Programs
Clara Govachini attended Prince of Peace as a kindergartener, where they had an inclusive education program for students with a disability. But after Prince of Peace closed, Clara’s parents, Regina and Dennis, weren’t sure where they should send her for first grade.
They decided to give public school a try, but quickly realized Clara was not progressing in their non-inclusive classrooms. “It was the worst year of our lives,” Regina noted.
That’s when the family decided to give St. Anthony School Programs a try. They enrolled second grade Clara in St. Anthony’s program at SS. Simon and Jude, quickly felt at home, and saw Clara begin to thrive again in an inclusive environment. “The St. Anthony staff told us Clara was a blessing. There was a place for her. That gave us a lot of comfort,” Dennis said.
Clara, now 21-years-old, has been with St. Anthony School Programs ever since. She is now a senior in St. Anthony’s post-secondary program at Duquesne University, learning necessary job and life skills, so she can make her way after she graduates this spring.
“I have learned about how to behave at a job, how you should work hard, you should not act up at a job, just work,” Clara explained. “We also learn how to cook, clean the house, and do the laundry.”
During the week, Clara spends time in the classroom at Duquesne University with her peers, but she also works at St. Paul’s Food Pantry practicing her on-the-job skills. In past years, she’s worked at the library, University of Pittsburgh, Carlow University, and more.
“I do feel like the Duquesne program is the crown jewel of the program,” Regina added. “She was incorporated into the campus. She’s had a buddy through the Best Buddies program, and they have lunch together. She really got the taste of campus life.”
Outside of school, Clara is known to many as an excellent singer—she’s even in a band. She also has a love for all things Disney. She ran in the Disney 5K last year, and loved it so much, her family is headed back for vacation later this year.
Clara will graduate this spring and hopes to find a job in a restaurant or at a hotel. Her plan is to live with her parents for now and look for a place of her own in a couple of years.
“At St. Anthony, their students are given the chance to discover who they are, explore their strengths and weaknesses, and what they want in a job,” Dennis said. “We’re proud of Clara and so happy with her education.”