Lower School Program
The Gateway Lower School Program is a unique setting in which the academic, social, and emotional growth of students with learning disabilities is carefully fostered. Enrollment is limited to allow small classrooms of eight to ten students where the learning curriculum is highly individualized as well as opportunities for the student body to meet together for large group learning experiences. These larger learning contexts facilitate a strong sense of school community and help prepare students for transitions to mainstream educational programs.
Instruction in reading and math is conducted in smaller group settings in order to teach to the specific needs and skill levels of each child. The core reading program is based upon the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory phonics approach. Similarly, Stern Structural Arithmetic forms the basis of our mathematics instruction, which highlights the language of math as well as visualization of quantity relationships. These multi-sensory approaches to learning ensure that students develop a strong structural basis for future academic success.
Gateway's atmosphere is structured, warm, and nurturing. Emphasis is placed on the development of each child's strengths and talents as well as the foundational instruction necessary to address his or her specific learning challenges. Gateway is committed to helping each child develop a strong sense of self-worth and independence, a concomitant respect for others and an ability to function well as a member of a group.
The Lower School Program enhances students' strengths while approaching their specific and special needs. A diverse curriculum including social studies, science, art, music, technology, dance, movement, and adaptive physical education gives unique opportunities for students to flourish. Each program area holds a specific purpose. Our music program, for example, combines the Kodaly (vocal) and Orff (instruments) approaches, which immerses our students in the creative process as well as motor planning, perceptual skills, and multi-tasking. Visual art classes provide our students with another communicative avenue for expression and are often adapted from the language arts program.
Language therapy and occupational therapy are offered on a case by case basis in small groups. Our clinical staff push-in to classrooms to collaboratively teach so that the language and perceptual needs of the children are met within content learning experiences. Social development is also an integral part of the Lower School Program. Social skills are developed throughout the day in specific groups provided by the psychology, speech and language and occupational therapy departments. The social emotional growth of every child is enhanced through the integration of specialized methodologies in all experiences every day.
Delivery of the Lower School Program in all its facets is the responsibility of Gateway's expert faculty and staff. Through frequent meetings and collaborative instruction, special education teachers, clinicians, and specialist teachers work closely together to ensure that the needs of each individual student are addressed throughout the child's experiences at Gateway. Faculty and staff members devote significant attention to careful and purposeful observation of students in all settings so that the individual strengths and challenges of each student are well understood and so that instruction can be shaped by this knowledge, even as the needs of the students continue to change over time.
The children at Gateway assemble each morning for Grandstand. The Gateway Grandstand is an example of our school's educational philosophy that learning occurs in groups of varying size and that children learn from one another. Grandstand is an opportunity for all of the children to come together as a community to learn and share, to practice the power of communication, to problem solve, to learn to respect one another and to share in responsibility as members of a community.