THE WALKER SCHOOL - NEEDHAM
The Walker School is a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education‑approved private special education school comprising a coeducational K-8 academic program for children ages 5 through 13 with complex presentations that are often manifested by behavioral, social, and emotional challenges. The Walker School is an extended-year program with the capacity to serve 80 students. To meet the unique learning needs of each student, the Walker School offers an academic program that fully incorporates the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, developmentally appropriate practices, and intensive therapeutic services. Our school and classroom environments are designed to help students, whose educational needs have not been met in previous programs and settings, build interpersonal and social skills that enable them to successfully access a general education curriculum. For example, we offer many in-class supports that promote self-regulation and concentration, including but not limited to:
- Instructional design with a focus on pacing (e.g., extending/adjusting time, allowing sensory breaks, frequent variation in activities)
- Supplementary aids (e.g., adaptive seat cushions, sensory toys and materials, graphic organizers)
- Assistive technology (e.g., computers, iPads, specialized software, audiobooks)
Our classroom educational teams provide significant individualized support to students. Our classroom educational teams include a licensed teacher, an assistant teacher, and a milieu staff. Our classroom ratio is higher than the industry norm, and we have a number of supervisory staff and support staff available to assist student as needed. Additionally, each student and his/her family/legal guardian work with a multidisciplinary team that includes the aforementioned teaching and milieu staff, as well as a clinician, psychopharmacologist, and other specialists as needed (e.g., speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist and technology specialists). Working together, the team is able to ensure that the student and his/her family/legal guardian have input into the development and ongoing review of the student’s individualized education plan and clinical and behavioral support plans. Educational Coordinators are available to assist the team with developing and implementing instructional modifications and specialized approaches to teaching and learning that may benefit a particular student and/or the student community as a whole.
Behavioral, social, and emotional skills are addressed throughout the school day - in class, during structured recess and lunch groups, and in classroom-based social skills therapy groups. Each child is assigned a clinician who assesses the child and his/her family’s strengths and needs and is responsible for coordinating the program’s services with community-based services. For students in need of additional support for self-help and daily living skills, these issues may also be addressed in the classroom.
In all of our work with students, we draw heavily on the use of evidence-based practices and trauma-informed care, and we have systems in place to assess progress toward academic and behavioral, social, and emotional goals.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Program Review
Each year, the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) conducts a review of each of our school programs. Every year, DESE conducts an annual review; every three years they conduct a more in-depth Mid-Cycle Review; and every six years they conduct a Program Review, which is a very thorough and comprehensive review of our school programs.
In June, Walker completed our six-year DESE program review, which included a written submission, on-site inspection of each of our schools, staff interviews, student and personnel record reviews, classroom observations, and family surveys. We are very proud to announce that we received a Final Report which indicates that we passed each area of inspection. We have no corrective action required. Our DESE-approved school programs include the Beacon High School, Walker Day Program and Walker Intensive Residential Program.
We invite you to review our Final Report on our website, or please stop by the reception area at any of our DESE-approved school programs. We will have a copy available for you to review onsite.
Danielle Wetmore, Walker School Principal