In a new blog series, Boston Tutoring Services highlights Massachusetts Special Education Schools. This week, we interview Suzanne Tiberii from The Manville School.
Boston Tutoring Services: What types of special needs/disabilities does your school support?
Suzanne Tiberii: Manville is a 766-approved private therapeutic day school. We serve children with emotional, behavioral and learning challenges. About 1/3 of our students are on the high end of the autism spectrum (Asperger’s, NLD).
BTS: What types of therapeutic services do you offer?
ST: We offer individual weekly therapy for all children; we have a dozen staff clinicians (psychologists and social workers) and 6 trainees each year in both of those disciplines. We also offer pragmatic language/social skills therapy groups to some of our students.
BTS: How does the setting of your school environment help support the students’ needs?
ST: We currently have 14 classrooms, ranging from Kindergarten through grade 10; classes are small, with 6-9 students and a staff of 3 in every class — head teacher, assistant teacher, classroom counselor.
We have 3 speech-language pathologists on staff, as well as 4 staff OT’s and 2 COTA’s. We have two sensory gym spaces. We have about half a dozen people who provide individual support in reading and math for students who have even more significant need.
BTS: How has the curriculum been designed to best support the range of academic needs your students present?
ST: Our curriculum follows the MA Common Core (since we are publicly funded) and we are required to conduct MCAS testing. We try to accommodate individual children’s learning styles within the requirements of the CC; we use the Wilson Reading program, Fundations, EmPower writing program, and lots of assisting technology and programs to support reading fluency and writing, especially the organizational aspect. We also use Sara Ward strategies — STOP and Read the room for executive functioning challenges.
BTS: How do you facilitate communication between the students’ academic teachers and therapeutic services to provide a well-rounded support system?
ST: Our therapists act as case managers and have ongoing contact with parents, who also communicate with teaching staff — sometimes via telephone, usually via email. We offer weekly a parent support group and a staff BCBA who works with many children in the school and some families in their homes.