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- What student might be the right fit for The Orion School?
- What conditions are represented at The Orion School?
- Do you follow an IEP?
- What are the goals for your students?
- What is the teacher to student ratio and how big are the classes?
- How big is The Orion School?
- Who are the teachers and what are their qualifications?
- How strong is your academic program?
- Do your students take the CRCT?
- What kind of reports do parents receive?
- How is communication handled?
- How are discipline and behavior issues handled?
- What is your social skills program?
- Do you use The Alert Program?
- How does The Orion School deal with special food concerns?
- How does The Orion School support the parents?
- How do parents support The Orion School?
- Can I bring my child to visit The Orion School to see if they like it and are a fit?
- Can you give me specific ways that might help me decide if my child is a good fit for The Orion School and I should pursue admission?
What student might be the right fit for The Orion School?
The Orion School is the only school with a dedicated profile educating more complex children who have social and emotional challenges including ADHD. Our typical student is curious, outgoing, energetic, and often bright. He may have a diagnosis of ADHD (or the traits of impulsivity, hyperactivity, distractibility, and inattentiveness in varying degrees). We do not consider a diagnosis a label, but a resource tool to give a point of reference for the right kind of intervention. Cookie cutter approaches that purport to work for all developmental disabilities and differences cannot possibly be the right ones. Our students are all unique, but many have similar general profiles.
What conditions are represented at The Orion School?
The range of conditions at The Orion School are ones that typically co-occur with an ADHD diagnosis and include Asperger’s Syndrome, learning disabilities (such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia), anxiety, OCD, tics and Tourette’s disorder. A majority of our students have executive function disorder, sensory processing disorder, and dysgraphia. On a case by case basis, we are an inclusion school for children who have other conditions, can benefit from our supportive and structured school program, and can be successful with a 1:4 teacher to student ratio. We are not the right school for a child who requires a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio for success.
Do you follow an IEP?
As a specialized school, we offer the kind of supports that are found in most IEPs. By definition all our students need the kinds of support that individualized educational plans that might suggest such as smaller more structured classes, visual prompts, direct instruction and multisensory learning approaches, shorter classes, little or no homework, and being near the teacher to minimize distractions. We offer an adaptive education that is reflective of the needs of each student.
What are the goals for your students?
Each student has a goal unique to their development. For many of our students, the goal is to learn how to become a successful student. We help our students develop a strong self-esteem, strategies for living successfully with neurobehavioral conditions such as ADHD, and a lifelong love of learning.
What is the teacher to student ratio and how big are the classes?
The Orion School maintains a 1:4 teacher to child ratio with small classes of four students. Our students need the support of smaller class to keep distractions to minimum, not just a smaller ratio. Even a class of eight students and two teachers would require a child to filter seven other children and two teachers. Our teachers collaborate as a team to determine the best approach to maximize each student’s potential. The teaching ratio is often even lower; particularly when our core teachers support our enrichment teachers to meet goals.
How big is The Orion School?
We are purposefully small to maintain the integrity of the school program we have in place. We also have limited enrollment growth to better serve the needs of our students and keep the flexibility, accessibility and communication that is impossible to translate into a larger school program.
Who are the teachers and what are their qualifications?
The Orion teacher's education and experience is diverse and complimentary. We have innovative and nurturing teachers who are committed to work collaboratively to find ways to engage all our students in the joy of learning. Please see our teaching staff bios for individual qualifications.
How strong is your academic program?
We are able to offer an educational oasis for all learning styles. The Orion School is structured to offer as typical a school experience as possible for students that need an alternative to a more traditional program. Our low 1:4 ratio offers an intensively supportive academic setting for children with or without learning differences. All students get academic intervention which ensures that each student’s academic goals are met.
Do your students take the CRCT?
No! As a private school we do not need to take this state test. We do provide ongoing formal and informal evaluations of student performance.
What kind of reports do parents receive?
With small classes of four students our teachers are able to do evidence based intervention and monitoring of our students’ progress throughout the school year. There is an ongoing relationship with teachers, daily behavioral reports, weekly parent notes, quarterly conferences, ongoing academics assessment, once a year standardized testing (Stanford 10), and an ongoing student portfolio assembled from all the core and enrichment teachers who work with our students.
How is communication handled?
There is a weekly parent note with information about the upcoming week, curriculum details from each teacher, and a recap of the week. Parents can chat informally with the teachers at drop off and pick up but, are encouraged to schedule a time to talk for more than a few minutes. The Orion School teachers understand the need for ongoing communication and information sharing about each student.
How are discipline and behavior issues handled?
Our students often come from schools where their challenges were perceived as behavior problems and not part of their struggle to regulate their emotions and their body. We use a disability perspective, but a strength based approach to help our students understand their strengths and weaknesses. We also have a school wide positive behavior support plan in place to help our students regulate behavior. The goal is to have constant, tactile reinforcement increases student confidence and communicates teachers’ expectations by focusing on positive, desired behaviors rather than the negative consequences. Our teaching staff considers individualized behavior interventions through a thoughtful team approach and ongoing consultation with a mental health professional.
What is your social skills program?
Sustained growth in social and emotional intelligence development is addressed through a variety of real life situations throughout each school day. In addition, direct instruction social skill activities are used to teach pragmatic skills and emotional literacy. Since we are school, our social skill teacher uses a literature based approach to integrate social thinking into direct instruction lesson plans as part of language arts. Thinking maps are used to help students organize the social concepts learned.
Do you use The Alert Program?
Yes, we use The Alert Program as another tool to teach self-awareness and regulation. This program also provides a sense of power and control over students’ bodies and choices. Orion teachers have attended in-service training in this program and use tenants of it throughout the school day.
How does The Orion School deal with special food concerns?
The Orion School does not adhere to any food philosophies with regard to developmental differences. We try to respect parent choices as much as we are capable of doing in a school setting. Each student brings his or her own lunch from home. We provide a variety of healthier snack choices to expand our students’ food experiences and to meet educational and social goals. We offer occasional snack treats as well. We also have snacks that meet the dietary needs of students who have food allergies or are on restricted diets. We welcome parent snack contributions that benefit all the students. If we have a child at The Orion School with a peanut allergy, we are a Peanut Free zone throughout the school year.
How does The Orion School support the parents?
As part of our effort to fully support Orion School families and the larger community, monthly parenting support meetings are offered. The meetings are designed to provide parents with understanding, support, and information in a supportive group setting. This is an opportunity to work through strategies and brainstorm around hot button issues. The evenings provide a calm environment to relax and build relationships and support with other parents who are on the same path. We also have parent educational evening with presentations by teachers and other specialists.
How do parents support The Orion School?
We strongly encourage parents to help The Orion School in any way they are able. Our parents drive to offsite excursions, serve on our board, support the goals of the teachers, help with fundraising, public relations and marketing, special projects, programs such as our Soccer Saturday, and donate time and money to help The Orion School offer the best education possible to our students. Unless a parent has an educational background, we do not have parents in their child’s classrooms – although we welcome help at the school.
Can I bring my child to visit The Orion School to see if they like it and are a fit?
A day long school visit is part of the admission process for The Orion School. Our students love novelty and generally do well on short school visits and interviews. Our goal is to see a child for the duration of the day so we can better assess where the child both struggles and shines in a school setting. We also want the prospective student to experience a full day at The Orion School to understand how we are different from the school within which they may be struggling.
Can you give me specific ways that might help me decide if my child is a good fit for The Orion School and I should pursue admission?
Our typical student has a more complex profile that is not so easily defined by a diagnosis. Despite often being curious, outgoing creative, and often bright, she might typically have any number of the following challenges:
- Needs to be in a smaller, more structured classroom environment for school success.
- Struggles in a traditional school setting where seat work, paying attention, staying on task and working in a group are required.
- Has difficulty making and keeping friends. Often, invitations to birthday parties and play dates do not come easily.
- Misinterprets social cues from other children and adults despite being social and verbal.
- Interpersonal skills may present as inappropriate or even rude.
- Gets overwhelmed in new, unstructured, or even exciting situations.
- Struggles with sensory issues.
- Conflict resolution skills are not well developed.
- Must win…and really does not like to lose.
- Tends to be inflexible
- Will not stay on task if not interested.
- Despite interest, does not consistently finish tasks.
- Repeats off behaviors despite redirection and intervention.
- The concept of time is limited.
- Cause and effect are not always understood.
- Struggles with handwriting.
- Has difficulty with executive function disorder – for example has difficulty with organization.
- Is relentlessly outgoing, talkative, and persistent.
- May have low self-esteem or inflated sense of self