The League School of Greater Boston believes that educating a student with multiple needs – social, emotional, academic, behavioral and physical – requires a collaborative, integrated approach. We therefore apply a team model to our teaching, with each member’s role reflective of the needs of the individual student.
We also believe that educating students in the context of their daily routine will help them more easily adapt and apply acquired skills to new situations. So instead of bringing students to our specialists – whether speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists or behavior specialists – we bring the specialists directly to the classroom. Our specialists consult and collaborate with the classroom teachers to ensure the new skills are reinforced in all settings to promote generalization and true understanding.
Each classroom has one head teacher certified in special education and a teacher assistant with a bachelor’s degree. Our vocational program also includes job coaches.
Speech and Language Pathologists
For each student at League School, the ultimate goal is to be an effective and efficient communicator. Keeping this in mind, student programs are customized based on their abilities/potential. Students most often are divided into two types of communicators; speaking or non-speaking. Students who are speaking work towards improving functional and social communication skills, ranging from requesting appropriately to understanding nonverbal language. Students who are non-speaking work towards acquiring a symbol system to communicate, ranging from gestures to visuals (photographs, picture cards, or text) to sophisticated speech-generating devices.
In order to help students achieve their goals, the speech-language pathologists at League School work with staff and students to provide consultative services as well as direct, small-group instruction. Groups may include: structured language and movement, functional communication, social skills building, and social perspective groups. Services are designed based on the communication and educational needs of the students; all programs are infused across all academic and community-based activities/instruction. Consultative services provide opportunities for the staff to work together to plan for and broaden generalization of skills across people and settings. These services also allow our speech-language pathologists to be flexible in addressing the changing needs of our students throughout the year. For instance, they may work more intensively with a student with a new communication device for a short period. Direct instruction in a small group setting provides opportunities for structured practice of skills and early generalization opportunities.
Occupational therapy services address difficulties in the areas of sensory processing/integration, visual perception, fine and gross motor skills, executive functioning, self-care and emotional regulation as they relate to the educational environment. The educational environment at League School consists of not only academics but family life, community skills, vocational engagement and leisure/recreational interests. Occupational therapy promotes skill development and assists in the implementation of necessary accommodations to foster functional independence in all areas of learning. Services are integrated into all program areas and through all portions of a student’s day. Services are delivered via consultation with the education team as well as through direct small group instruction incorporating the use of therapeutic equipment, techniques and strategies. Individualized services are designed based on the given needs of the student as determined by the education team and are supported by all staff members across all settings.
Our psychologist and behavior specialists use a spectrum of behavioral approaches, rather than one set model, to create individualized, positive behavioral intervention programs for each student. They then work with the classroom teachers to implement each plan.
Our behaviorists work with students in all League programs to help them create safer environments for themselves through settling strategies and behavior modification plans. Students use these services to regulate their behaviors so they can rejoin the learning environment.
Offering students both individual and group counseling, clinical services focus on helping students regulate their emotions through identifying their feelings and helping to appropriately express themselves. These services promote positive social interaction between students and other individuals. They also develop students’ self-awareness and mindfulness skills, play and leisure skills, and problem-solving skills. Finally, they enable students to recognize and select an appropriate coping strategy.
Teachers of Adapted Physical Education, Art and Music
Students participate in small group classes in adapted physical education, art and music conducted by certified teachers in each area.
Adapted physical education is an integral part of learning for students with disabilities, offering an outlet for physical activity that is not readily available to students outside of school. Our program combats obesity, encourages participation in physical activity, and offers students safe gross motor movement activities that are developmentally appropriate and modified to meet their individual skill levels.
The League School art curriculum is designed in accordance with the Massachusetts Frameworks for Visual Arts, with strong emphasis placed on Standards 1-3. Art history- based lessons are designed and modified for successful small group participation. Class instruction is delivered academically, incorporating visual supports and technology as needed. Appropriate communication, independence and problem-solving are encouraged, while support is given to ensure student enjoyment of art. Students practice fine motor skills, often generalizing to real-life applications. Art work is consistently displayed in the hallways; building self-esteem. For students with exceptional strength in visual arts, opportunities are available for independent study and participation in school-wide projects such as illustrating the school calendar and cookbook.
The Music program at League School enables students to more effectively express their feelings in a socially acceptable manner while eliciting social interaction on a fundamental level. Students without strong verbal capabilities may still sing since vocal production time is stretched in music. Also, singing or playing instruments in concerts builds students’ self-esteem while students also demonstrate teamwork building skills by co-operatively participating in concerts.
We have two full-time on-site nurses and a part-time consulting child psychiatrist.
The goal of the Vocational Program is to provide students with the skills, knowledge, and linkages necessary to make a seamless transition to adulthood.
Students are afforded the opportunity to acquire basic job retention skills. Often these skills are taught “on the job” during the completion of a numerous in-house vocational assignments.
In the Vocational Center, students participate in a variety of functional clerical tasks. The students complete staff requests for photocopying, laminating, hole-punching, binding, die-cutting and shredding tasks; saving teachers time for their other responsibilities. League School students also provide clerical assistance to other community agencies. They assist HESSCO by preparing their monthly mailing for Meals on Wheels and the New England Animal Co-operative by copying information and application packets.
In the Hawk’s Nest (school store) students learn many of the skills required to work in the retail field. The students learn to clean various surfaces, take inventory, and stock shelves. Because the store sells snack and lunch items, the students frequently practice customer service and money skills. Once a week, a small group of students shop at Costco to purchase the merchandise sold in the store and vending machines. Throughout the week, students keep the classrooms stocked with school and office supplies by taking orders and making deliveries.
The training kitchen is used daily for instructing students of many different skill levels in the preparation, service, and storage of food. We also practice menu planning, safe food wrapping and freezer dating. A very important facet of the kitchen operation is cleaning. Students are trained in loading the dishwasher and washing dishes. Once a month, we prepare and sell specialty items such as baked stuffed potatoes or soup. In addition, we sell various cookies and Whoopie Pies for student purchase. The kitchen has a restaurant size double convection oven with a capacity to cook 80 hot dogs at a time. This menu is available every other Wednesday. Future projects include pancake breakfasts for individual classrooms. In addition to preparing the meal, students will receive training in table setting and serving.
The school’s Internship Program matches employers with students based on the specific needs of the business and the skills of the student. The following area companies have partnered with us to provide students with valuable vocational experiences:
- Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics
- HESSCO Elder Services-Meals on Wheels
- Harrington House Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center
- Vanderbilt Club
- Salvation Army Thrift Store
- NE Sinai Hospital
- Norwood Hospital
- The Massachusetts Audubon Society at Moose Hill
- Big Y Supermarket
- TJ Maxx
- Walpole Library
- Norwood Recreation Department
- Bay State Animal Cooperative
- Golden Ridge Farm
Job Clubs are offered to provide students with a forum to discuss work related issues as well as to help them refine the skills necessary to obtain and maintain employment. Students receive training in resume preparation, application completion, interviewing, and job search techniques. In addition, students are afforded the opportunity to visit institutions of higher education and to attend lectures given by professionals representing a variety of occupations.