Special Education & 504
Growth in our Special Education Department has helped GSA become the high school for everyone who wants to be part of our learning community. We continue to add services and hire more ed techs to provide better support for students with accommodations and opportunities for co-teaching.
Our programs support students while here and prepare them for life after graduation. Our students learn study skills, how to advocate for themselves, and how to behave appropriately in class. They learn about their strengths and weaknesses and how to use them and accommodations to their academic advantage. We build relationships with colleges and take students on college visits. They also learn strategies for success after graduation, how to use services available to them as adults, and who to reach out to for help.
GSA encourages parents/guardians to be involved with their children's education. Parents are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Services or their child’s advisor as needed throughout the year. IEP meetings are scheduled and led by the Special Education lead teacher. The 504 coordinator schedules 504 meetings.
Our Learning Center is a resource for all. Students entering GSA with identified special education services or 504 plans spend their first semester study halls here so our special education teachers get to know them and their needs. Many continue to spend their study halls in the Learning Center throughout their time at GSA. The level of academic support is reviewed each year. Students not qualified for special education services but who find the atmosphere conducive to study are also welcome to use this room. The Learning Center is also where we serve students with special education needs, like mild to moderate learning differences, attention issues, and executive functioning difficulties.
Direct English/Language Arts & Math Instruction: In math, GSA’s entry-level course is pre-algebra, but students who come in with very basic math skills can be supported with one-on-one work during Ninth-Grade Seminar or study hall. The pre-algebra course is co-taught by a math teacher and a teacher with special education training, with pull-out support as needed.
A similar structure is offered to freshmen in the English Foundations course. GSA provides pull-out reading instruction, and special education teachers work with students to reinforce skills and work toward IEP goals.
Classroom Accommodations: In conjunction with the student’s IEP, the special education teacher oversees course accommodations and provides suggestions to teachers and students for modifying course work to ensure student learning success. Those students with extreme deficits in reading, mathematics, or other areas may work with the special education teacher and/or an education technician to improve their skills through an alternative course contract.
One-to-One Support: An education technician hired by the sending town may work with a student as needed. The education technician may accompany the student to some or all classes and work with the student in the Learning Center under the supervision of the special education teacher, and in accordance with the student’s IEP.
The RISE Program: The Road to Independence, Self-Advocacy and Empowerment Program at GSA provides a learning environment to students whose academic, social, emotional, or behavioral needs require highly supportive and supervised special education services throughout the school day. The program fosters enhanced support for students with special needs in the mainstreamed classrooms and in a nurturing classroom experience with one-to-one specially designed instruction.
The RISE program has found great success by embracing a culture that embodies opportunity to feel a part of a community. The program promotes independence in academic growth, life skills, social/emotional skills, and executive functioning skills. Our program supports our students as they become more empowered to make healthy choices in their school experiences and guides them towards being active participants in their communities now and into their future.
Our students are given opportunities to practice life skills and are supported and guided as they discover their career interests. Our RISE program educators guide our students through their academic years by providing support in finding effective tools and strategies to feel successful. Ongoing communication with students’ families, special service providers, and education teams is key to ensuring that students are provided with the support necessary for their growth, development, and post-secondary transition plans.
Other Services: Standardized tests such as the PSAT, SAT, and AP are administered with appropriate accommodations as approved by the College Board.
Transition Plans: Times of transition can be especially challenging for students with special educational needs. GSA special education teachers are available to participate in the development of IEPs for eighth-grade students transitioning to the high school and for students at other times of transition (e.g., graduation).
Learning Space for Speech Services and Occupational Therapy is provided by GSA when the school union provides the necessary specialist.