Valley View’s approach to academics is in keeping with the school’s unique therapeutic philosophy. Although we are therapeutic in nature, the school appears as a typical New England boarding school. Therapy is built into the school’s everyday life and milieu. Our curriculum follows the Massachusetts frameworks and is reviewed by the superintendent of public schools in North Brookfield, the town in which Valley View is located.
Our two school buildings hold a total of ten classrooms, an art studio, a computer lab, and a media room. Class sizes are small, typically with a 6:1 student-teacher ratio. We are not an LD school, but we do have many elements built into our program to assist students with academic deficits. The majority of our students have strong academic potential, but face challenges such as processing and executive functioning deficits, working memory challenges, and ADD/ADHD.
We believe in addressing these challenges through a consistent regimen of academic discipline. We require students to create classroom folders, daily homework agendas and printed homework logs. The students are given homework on a regular basis. They attend study hall each weekday evening for one hour and fifteen minutes. We have a full time tutor available to students, and tutoring that can be built into their regular school schedule. This gives students one-on-one help customized to their personal needs.
We also provide students with a wide variety of technological support including: Google Chromebooks, Smart Board lessons, Kindle reading devices, books on tape, multisensory gaming, as well as classroom computers in math and English.
Twice a year students participate in academic assessment testing provided by the renowned Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), which provides us with student achievement data. We use this data to measure the growth and progress of our students in mathematics, reading and language usage.
As part of the reading section we are able to measure our student’s lexile range, which tells us their grade level reading comprehension. NWEA provides us with graphs and charts mapping out progress. It compares data from our students to others in the same grade nationwide.
Our English class has a supplemental Internet-based Accelerated Reader (AR) program that allows students to choose from thousands of books on their reading level and later tests them on their comprehension. Because the students are able to choose the books they find the most interesting, it empowers them and makes their decision part of the process of finding an appropriated grade level book to read. Through the AR program, many of our students who refused to read have become avid readers.
Our Math curriculum utilizes an Internet-based program called ALEKS. Our two math teachers work in conjunction with the program to give our students a high level of mathematical support. Students can progress at their own rate while using the program. This allows students who excel in math to move quickly and other students that need additional support do not fall behind the pace of a typical math classroom.
Our students develop strong relationships with the staff members and spend a large part of the day with teachers. This relationship is much broader and more personal than the typical student teacher relationship. We wake them up in the morning, eat meals with them and interact with them in other residential portions of the program. Our teaching staff has an average of 12.5 years of experience at Valley View. Each Monday afternoon, students and teachers are involved in club activities designed by the teachers, based on their strong, personal interests.
The students are engaged in social situations throughout the day. They receive social cues throughout the day and evening from teachers who have a wealth of experience. We speak with them in an open and direct manner.
We have a speech therapist available for hire who comes to Valley View once a week and meets with students to improve speech and language skills.
There are a wide variety of elective classes for students to choose from each semester. These include: Astronomy, Eastern Fitness, Physical Fitness, Finance, Meteorology, Computer Science, Documentaries, Painting, “In the News,” and Health. In addition we offer Spanish and French. We also have an enriching and engaging art program that the majority of our students have as part of their school schedule.
Valley View has a six week, mandatory summer program that include many summer camp type activities, as well as some academic requirements.
Students are able to choose a single class that they will attend throughout summer session. Students are required to read each day during a designated reading period, complete two books,and pass an AR test. We also have math requirements for those students who either need extra time to complete their course work from the regular school year, or who would suffer setbacks if did not practice math skills during the summer. The summer program is dynamic and includes a wide variety of daily activities including tennis, rocket building and launching, art projects, local history, rock climbing wall, archery, swimming, fishing, and Tai Chi martial arts.