As an educational consultant and special needs advocate, I periodically visit special needs schools to tour in person because I only recommend schools to my clients that I have personally visited and vetted. This blog post series highlights the top special needs schools in the United States I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and gives an inside look at what makes them so great.
Eatontown, New Jersey
About The School
Harbor School is dedicated to providing a nurturing environment for students with a wide range of physical and academic challenges. The programs that they have provide support in different areas. These areas include social, life skills, transition as well as a wide range of therapy services. The therapy services are Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ST Counseling as well as BCBA. Additionally, the school uses a variety of technology tools in order to serve the students.
The academic programs at Harbor School include:
- Literacy and Reading: An individualized approach is the way they work with the kids. The school maintains the integrity of the New Jersey Learning Standards.
- Language Arts: The curriculum is catered to the individual need of the student, therefore no two curricula are the same. All the students are exposed to a wide variety of language arts material. The school is aligned to the Common Core Standards.
- Handwriting: All students are encouraged to write and participate using the most appropriate model that fits their needs.
- Math: All students partake in functional skills math. Once again, an individualized plan is based on the need of each student. This part of the curriculum is also followed by the New Jersey Learning Standards.
- Social Studies: This part of the curriculum at Harbor not only teaches history but functional life skills as well. Students are encouraged to go out to the community in order to put into practice what they have learned in the classroom.
- World Language: Harbor teaches a variety of cultures. They implement a whole school approach using Core words. They also use the iPad, verbal speech as well as American Sign Language.
- Science: A variety of topics are taught. These topics are in accordance with the Next Generation Science Standards. Science is approached using multi modes as it encourages students to use a hands on approach in order for them to learn at their highest potential.
- Computers: Harbor uses a variety of computer based learning including Vizzle, Brain Pop as well as Learn 360, just to name a few. Additionally, the students use tablets, iPads and other communication devices that allow for them to interact with their peers, family and staff while they are in school as well as when they are at home.
- Health: The health curriculum is based on the age group as well as the individual needs. The curriculum is developed in conjunction with their adaptive physical education program. The program focuses on hygiene, healthy eating, advocating for yourself as well as requesting appropriate medical assistance.
Certified teachers are assisted by trained paraprofessionals who provide individualized as well as small group instruction within a small class setting.
Challenging students who need to have their academic, functional, social, behavioral and transitional needs met.
I was lucky enough to meet Anne Gunteski, Principal of Harbor School. From the moment that I met with her, the love of the children and why she is at Harbor came shining through. During our extensive tour, she acknowledged each and every child that we passed in the hallways as well as met in the classrooms. She knew every child like the back of her hand. The children felt comfortable in their surroundings, whether it was talking to Anne, learning in the classroom with their teacher or partaking in a special class like art or music.
Harbor School is a welcoming environment for any child whose needs fit their particular curriculum. The children are very comfortable and happy with the environment that Harbor provides. The learning skills that they are able to perfect while being at Harbor allows for them to carry forward once they graduate and therefore to become a productive member of society.
Harbor School is definitely a school that shines above in regards to what they provide academically as well as socially.