The 50 Best Private Special Needs Schools in the United States
31. The Cottage School, Roswell, GA
Advocates of The Cottage School praise its innovative approaches to academic learning and personal development. Middle and high school students who have had trouble adjusting to traditional classroom settings because of learning disabilities, attention problems, or emotional/social difficulties are presented with a supportive environment that attends to all areas of a student’s life. Of particular note is the school’s emphasis on time management and preparation for the working world; as a student progresses in the program, she/he is given assignments in two week blocks, and is expected to complete tasks and plan her/his own schedule. As goals are met, students are provided with a “salary” which is managed by the student through her/his own bank account. Students who graduate from The Cottage School depart with money organizational skills, as well as an awareness of the responsibilities and rewards of functioning in the working world.
Profile: co-ed day school for grades 6-12 (ages 11-20)
Student-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Tuition: $23,450/year (middle school); $24,450/year (high school)
32. The Gow School, South Wales, NY
Students with language learning disabilities, dyslexia, ADHD, auditory processing disorders, and difficulties with written expression find success at The Gow School because of its commitment to innovative teaching methods, incorporation of technology, and focus on improvement of executive functioning for those students who need extra assistance. The intensive college preparatory program encourages students to face struggles and challenge themselves; classes meet six days a week and emphasize multi-sensory learning and regular, supervised study periods. Life at Gow requires not only academic progress, but it also necessitates personal growth, from the social and etiquette skills learned in the dining halls to the teamwork and personal commitment skills learned on the athletic fields. Gow’s visual arts, theatre, and music programs ensure that students graduate from the school with both academic knowledge and appreciation for fine arts and culture.
Profile: all-boys boarding school with co-ed day school options for grades 7-12
Student-Faculty Ratio: 4:1
Tuition: $57,300/year (boarding); $36,800/year (day)
33. Oak Creek Ranch School, West Sedona, AZ
At Oak Creek Ranch School, students whose attention difficulties present challenges for success in a traditional school environment find confidence and academic achievement in a curriculum which addresses individual needs. Teachers employ various methods of instruction, including regular feedback and compensatory strategies (mnemonic devices, self-testing), and students are introduced to skills such as hierarchical task organization and note-taking. In preparation for college and the working world, juniors and seniors are required to research and produce a project which they present orally to their peers and advisors. Students at Oak Creek Ranch School have the opportunity to participate in courses such as the Leadership and Character Development program, and those who attend summer sessions take advantage of Arizona’s unique terrain with hiking, rock-climbing, and camping trips.
Profile: co-ed boarding school for ages 13-19 (grades 7-12)
Student-Faculty Ratio: 6:1
34. Camphill Special School, Glenmoore, PA
Camphill Special School, part of the Camphill educational community, whose mission is to serve students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, relies upon solid educational methods and therapeutic care. Basing its methods on the Waldorf curriculum, which ties academic learning to emotional growth, the school offers age-based courses of study alongside woodworking, dramatic arts, weaving, and other opportunities for students to discover interests and hobbies. Students in elementary and middle school are placed with one teacher for the duration of the student’s time at Camphill, and although other instructors are responsible for specialized subjects, the consistent relationship to the primary teacher becomes instrumental to significant development. The school offers physical, occupational, and artistic therapy, and emphasizes a strong community comprised of students, faculty, parents, and volunteers.
Profile: co-ed boarding school for grades K-12 with day school options
Student-Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Awards: the only private Waldorf school in North America accredited by AWSNA (Associated Waldorf Schools of North America)
Tuition: $69,000/year boarding school (day school rate by request)
35. Oxford Academy, Westbrook, CT
With a maximum enrollment of 48 students, Oxford Academy is able to provide specialized curriculum and individualized attention to students who have struggled in mainstream classrooms because of learning, attention, and emotional needs, including those who are learning English as a second language. Because the size of the school allows it to offer one-on-one classes, students at Oxford Academy benefit from the expertise of highly-trained teachers (who often live on campus) who are able to evaluate and monitor a student’s progress and customize course content and lessons. The school’s community emphasizes critical thinking, self-advocacy, and personal responsibility, and students attend to both body and mind with campus activities such as newspaper reading, foreign language study, and intermural sports, including flag football, weightlifting, and paintball.
Profile: all-boys boarding school for ages 13-20
Student-Faculty Ratio: 1:1
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