A School for Those Who Learn Differently
If you’ve noticed your child having difficulty in the traditional school environment, it is never too late to change course. Oftentimes, traditional academic environments are too rigid for students who learn differently or are challenged by learning disabilities. Gateway Lab School, which serves students in grades three to eight, is an innovative option for those who have been struggling to achieve academic success.
Here are four things that make Gateway unique:
Small class sizes
“Our classroom sizes are small, with a 15-1 student-to-teacher ratio,” says Tim Griffiths, executive director for Gateway Lab School, where there are often two adults in each classroom—one teacher and one paraprofessional.
The school’s arts-based programming
Children who struggle academically in a traditional classroom setting can flourish in an environment that combines multisensory instruction, integrated arts, and learning by doing. “We meet the learning styles of the students,” says Griffiths.
He acknowledges that parents struggle with the idea of changing course halfway through elementary school, particularly around the third-grade level. But Gateway believes that parent and caretaker involvement is essential to a student’s success, which is why there are plenty of volunteer opportunities and community activities. Get involved with the Gateway Friends and Family Committee, and enjoy family game nights, back-to-school events, and fundraisers.
Students with learning disabilities thrive
Gateway is geared toward students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and those with mild forms of autism. “Around 64 percent of our students have individualized education plans (IEP) at our school,” says Griffiths, noting the number in the average school district is much lower. IEPs are valuable in addressing each child’s unique learning issues. “At Gateway, there are a lot more kids that are like them.”
Students come from six different school districts
Gateway is a public charter school and a choice-option school. Currently, 212 students attend Gateway, which is in its seventh year of operation.
Gateway Lab School serves students in grades three to eight who are struggling to achieve academic success in a traditional classroom environment. Gateway Lab School models aspects of the Lab School of Washington, a private school located in Washington, D.C., that serves students with learning differences and ADHD. Sally L. Smith, the former head of the Graduate Program for Special Education: Learning Disabilities at American University, founded the Lab School of Washington and its curriculum. For over 40 years, Professor Smith developed an innovative and rigorous teaching method known as the Academic Club Method™, specifically designed for students with learning differences/disabilities and ADHD. Professor Smith’s techniques emphasize the arts and hands-on experiential learning to help struggling students become active learners and achieve academic success.