Course Facilitator Details

Dr. Madonna Marie Wojtaszek-Healy Ph.D.

Picture of Dr. Madonna Marie Wojtaszek-Healy Ph.D.

Location: Joliet, Illinois, United States

I am a cradle Catholic and was educated in Catholic schools most of my life. I have been married for 34 years to Jim, and we have four adult children. I hold a B.S. in elementary education from St. Bonaventure University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in educational psychology/life-span human development from the University of Illinois. I began my adult life as an elementary teacher, and then spent 7 years as a graduate student. I was a college campus minister for 3 years in the 1980's before moving to my present home in Joliet. While my children were young, I was an adjunct professor for 10 years at the University of St. Francis here in the psychology and education departments. I left USF to consult with the Diocese of Joliet's Peace and Social Justice Ministry, where I developed a training program on using children's literature to embrace the social justice teachings of the Church. When my oldest son was 5, he was diagnosed with ADHD. Both of my other sons and one daughter were also diagnosed with ADHD while in kindergarten. I had strong reasons for becoming as informed about the condition as I could. When it became clear that catechists had a need to understand ADHD to better welcome these children and their families into parish life, I was asked to become the consultant for special needs for the diocese. In 2003, I returned to elementary school teaching in a Catholic school half-time, working with junior high students who struggled with math. It didn't take me long to realize that many of them had ADHD symptoms and were smarter than they, their parents and their teachers thought they were. I began using techniques that I had recommended to catechists and my own children's teachers, and found that their learning outcomes improved.The Diocesan Schools Office started having me present to other teachers on working with students with ADHD. Presenting at the NCCL convention in 1995 got me some national attention, and I have presented at the NCEA and L.A. Congress and in many other dioceses across the country on ADHD and inclusion in Catholic schools and religious education programs since then. After my younger two sons were also diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I became informed about the special characteristics of those children and present on best practices for nurturing and teaching them as well. I retired from full-time teaching in 2013 due to a chronic blood disease, but continue to travel and present about special needs and catechesis. Developing the course on ADHD for the VLCFF with Anne Masters was an important task for me, as I strongly believe that we need to help others understand that having a brain that is hard-wired differently than others' in no way diminishes the value of a person's life or what they can contribute to the world. Ours is a message of justice, inclusion and hope for all of God's children.