"The historical and traditional view of the educational curriculum as emphasizing reading, writing, and arithmetic must be altered for exceptional children, because of the priority to teach other behaviors such as self-help, socialization and daily living skills.
This is not to imply, however, that reading and arithmetic should not be taught to exceptional children. Rather, the importance of teaching these skills must be weighted against the other skills exceptional students frequently need to acquire.
Irrespective of the content taught, appropriate educational programming for exceptional children must be developed and utilized. The programs at Vanguard begin with a philosophical foundation that is often referred to as "the Vanguard Way." These eight important considerations are what make the school special and unique. When people think of Vanguard, they think of these eight important characteristics.
Eight Important Considerations
Mutual respect is the basis upon which all aspects of The Vanguard School life and practice is founded. Faculty and staff accept each student as an individual and strive to provide programs and experiences which will strengthen the students' abilities to respect himself and those around him. Mutual respect is especially meaningful in our school environment because our students experience and learn through interaction with their fellow classmates the need for understanding and acceptance of individual differences. The school promotes this concept directly in our adventure-based counseling program (P.A.C.E.) which specifically cites mutual respect as a major tenet of the program. This life skill of respect continues throughout all interactions involving parents, staff, interdisciplinary and leadership teams.
From the start of a student's enrollment at Vanguard, the consultation process begins. Staff members from the various disciplines (speech, reading, occupational therapy, physical therapy, guidance, etc.) meet to create a team-oriented environment with a shared mission for student success. Interdisciplinary expertise is emphasized to establish integrated goals within the student's IEP and to develop task supports to optimize student performance. Student assessment relies on input and communication from all members of the education team. Interdisciplinary communication is a necessary, active, and ongoing process at The Vanguard School.
Knowing the Child's Strengths and Needs
We are able to assess each student's strengths and needs and implement appropriate plans across his/her program because of the collaborative nature of our service delivery system and our small student/staff ratio. Consultation within each student's education team promotes the sharing of ideas and knowledge, so that strategies can be implemented to remediate student needs by teaching through their individual learning strengths. These strategies are assessed on a continuous basis through daily involvement and observation across many venues (structured play, socialization activities, therapy time, work placements, etc.).
Flexibility is extremely important within our program due to the demands of meeting a wide spectrum of student needs, as well as the intricacies of scheduling because of our highly individualized approach to programming. Faculty need to be creative and flexible in their design and utilization of instructional strategies in order to address IEP goals, account for individual learning styles, emotional needs, and determine levels of student independence.
Student scheduling, which is individualized, also requires a high degree of flexibility as it relates to classroom organization. Therapy schedules, on and off campus work assignments, and vo-tech placements are some examples of the variables involved in the planning of classroom instruction.
Activities with Purpose
For many of our students, dealing with the abstract or being able to transfer skills poses many difficulties. In order to successfully deal with these issues, as an educational program, we attempt to make instruction and classroom activities relevant and purposeful for the student. We have found that our students are more likely to remain engaged in an activity which they deem relevant to themselves. The inability of many of our students to infer or to problem-solve presents roadblocks to future social or work related success. Relevance and purpose in learning is one way we attempt to ameliorate these deficiencies.
Our students require a supportive and structured environment as a prerequisite for successful learning to take place. Classroom management is a very important factor in providing such an environment. Flexibility and an atmosphere of mutual respect are anchors of classroom management at The Vanguard School. We balance consistency with compassion to provide the structure necessary for all of our students. As a staff, we strive to maintain clear behavioral expectations while setting and supporting realistic goals for individual success. A predictable, safe environment reduces tension, thus motivating students to work toward positive social interaction and independence.
Communication with Home
The Vanguard School believes that communication with parents is an integral part of student success. As members of the IEP team, parents are encouraged to take an active role in their child's program. This involvement, along with mandated reporting procedures, promotes an ongoing communication process. Student concerns, whether educational, emotional, behavioral, or medical often necessitates the need for frequent communication between home and school. As partners in the educational process, the home and school must maintain an open line of communication.
Increase Student's Opportunities for Success
For most of our students, successful school experiences were not commonplace in their previous school placements. Following the adage "success breeds success", our philosophy is to provide as much opportunity for student success as possible. Assessment is a key factor in determining a level of instruction where a student may experience success. Our multidisciplinary approach and continuous progress monitoring are elements which are essential to this assessment process. Successful experiences are not limited to the academic areas, but just as importantly, they are provided in the social and vocational areas of the student's program."
Excerpted from the preschool's website