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  Mission Statement  


Our mission is to assist people with disabilities to develop their skills to the fullest potential with caring and compassion and to honor the dignity of each individual we encounter. We seek to build relationships based on mutual trust and respect. We extend hospitality by creating an open and accepting space for those we serve, their families, and each other. We preserve the vision of out founder, St. John of God, by living the values inherent in his life and continuing his service where all may feel welcome.

  About The School  

Our History

Archbishop Damiano School has a long and proud history, tracing its roots back to the mid-1500s in Granada, Spain. It was there that our founder, John Cuidad, later known as St. John of God, began his life’s work of serving the poor, sick and disabled from the courtyard of the Venegas family house.                                                                    

From this humble beginning the work and mission of St. John of God has spread to over 51 countries throughout the world. For more information of the life of St. John of God, and the work of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, go to .


In 1965, Archbishop Damiano, the Bishop of Camden, invited five Hospitaller Brothers from Ireland to found a school for children with Down Syndrome. At that time in the United States, a child with a disability did not have the right to an education. The idea of a free and appropriate public education for all children did not become law until the passage of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in 1975. Ahead of its time, Archbishop Damiano School became a special place for children and their families to learn, grow, and prosper.



Archbishop Damiano School services over 160 students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities. Students are referred from over 50 different school districts throughout central and southern New Jersey. Educational programming is divided into three broad levels. 

Early Childhood Program

The ADS Early Childhood Program provides children ages 3-8 with an instructional program designed to address their unique developmental needs. The curriculum focuses on the development of communication, self-help, and academic readiness skills. Realizing a child’s natural ability to learn about the world through play, teachers instruct the children through thematic, play-based activities, as well as, more traditional academic readiness instruction. Additional program support is provided through related services — speech, physical and occupational therapies—which can be integrated into the classroom program, or provided as a pull-out service, depending upon the child’s individual needs.


Elementary & Middle School

Our philosophy at ADS is that every student has the potential to learn new skills. The elementary and middle school programs, for students 9 - 16, provide significant adaptations and accommodations that allows students access to New Jersey’s Common Core Academic Standards. In addition to academics, our students have access to a wide range of functional, life skills instruction design to help them become more independent in their day to day lives.    

Secondary Program

High school represents a time of change, The ADS secondary program supports students, ages 17 - 21, through those changes. Whether the challenge is learning to communicate needs, succeeding at a first job, or navigating a first prom, the secondary staff are there to guide, teach and encourage.                    




Archbishop Damiano School is proud to offer the following services:

  • Adaptive Physical Education (APE)
  • After school recreation programs
  • Augmentative communications, evaluations, trials, and training
  • Community-based Instruction (CBI)
  • Horticulture Program
  • 4-H Club
  • Hot Lunch Program
  • 1:1 student to iPad ratio
  • Job sampling and work-study options
  • Library & Multimedia Center
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Nursing Services
  • Parent accessible online library
  • Pastoral Care
  • Physical Therapy
  • Reading Tutors
  • Science Lab
  • Sensory Cart
  • Social Work Services
  • Speech therapy
  • Sensory Garden
  • Six week extended school year summer program
  • SMART technology in all classrooms
  • Therapeutic feeding
  • Transition Planning                      
  • Wellness Program