Monday, February 10, 2014

A Visit to The Gateway Schools

Last Friday your blogger and Dr. Yellin paid a visit to The Gateway Schools, where the lower school (for ages 5-9) and middle school (ages 10-14) work with students who struggle with language-based learning disabilities.

We had the opportunity to meet with Ellen Grayson, the Director of Admissions, who took us on a tour of the terrific school building, the top two floors of  a former parking garage on West 61st Street in Manhattan, near Lincoln Center, which is now a LEED certified  and welcoming environment, with lots of light, a spacious feel, and which features a full gym, an open atrium for meetings and performances, and quiet niches for one-on-one instruction, in addition to classroom space and rooms devoted to the arts and technology.

We visited a variety of classes, most with lessons in progress, and had the chance to observe students of all levels at work. We spoke about the profile of the students at Gateway, which Ms. Grayson noted includes students with difficulties in processing language or attention, who struggle in a mainstream classroom despite the fact that they have average or above-average intellectual abilities. She noted that the admissions process is designed not just to determine whether a particular student fits the Gateway "profile", but also to look at whether the Gateway Schools have a good classroom fit for that student, something that varies from grade to grade and from year to year. She did note that Gateway does not accept students with diagnoses of Developmental Delay, PPD, Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, or Autism Spectrum Disorders.

We then had a chance to sit down and speak at some length with Carolyn Salzman, Head of School at The Gateway Schools. Her pride in her faculty and students was evident throughout our conversation, which covered such subjects as how to best help particularly challenging students, how Gateway students do once they move on to high school (quite well, she noted), and the features that make Gateway an excellent program for students who need language-based academic supports - small classes, lots of opportunities for working with the arts and building skills in executive function and social interaction, and a faculty with both the academic credentials and the personal skills to help the students achieve. We look forward to continuing our conversation with Ms. Salzman and her staff.

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