Purpose & Objective
The Windward School is dedicated to fulfilling its mission of providing a proven educational program for students with language-based learning disabilities. Students are of average to superior intelligence who have been unable to achieve academic success in traditional classroom settings. At Windward, students receive the specialized instruction needed in order to close the gap between intellectual potential and academic performance. The program is designed to enable students to experience success, help them understand the nature of their learning differences, provide them with the skills and strategies to overcome their academic difficulties, and enable them to return to mainstream settings.
The Windward Education Program
The program has a defined core curriculum that is specifically designed to meet the needs of language-based learning disabled students. Students are grouped according to their educational needs in each subject, and each student’s progress is continuously and carefully monitored. Groups are small, and a low student/teacher ratio is maintained. Lessons and pedagogies are modified as necessary to suit the requirements of each class. Specialists work with students on an individual basis as needed. The School employs a professional staff with a high level of competence and offers a continuing program of staff development.
Most children who come to Windward have failed to achieve language competence. Windward believes that this learning difference should not interfere with a child’s ability to succeed. The impact of a language deficit affects much more than the inability to develop competent reading, spelling, and writing skills. Understanding directions, organizing information, building a fund of general knowledge, developing effective problem-solving strategies, understanding information as it becomes more syntactically complex, and expressing oneself succinctly in classroom situations are all adversely affected. Making friends, assuming responsibility, assessing social situations correctly, and acting appropriately also depend upon having an internal language system with which one can make sense of the world. The Windward faculty and staff is sensitive to these problems and provides students with strategies for coping with them.
The first priority at Windward is to remediate the students’ language-based learning disabilities since these can affect performance in every academic area, as well as undermine successful social and emotional growth. Language skills are emphasized in all curricular areas. The result is that similar concepts are reinforced in each class and through the grades. In the same fashion, organizational and study skills are woven into the lower and middle school curricula so that students learn to discern essential from non-essential information, summarize, and organize thoughts and facts as well as their books and papers.
An important objective of the School is to develop in its students the skills and motivation necessary to realize their academic potential and function in mainstream settings. High standards are maintained in the curriculum content, and when appropriate, the New York State curriculum is followed.
The Windward School provides a comprehensive educational environment in which language-based learning disabled youngsters can succeed. Its objective is to provide these youngsters with the skills that are commensurate with their intellectual functioning and return them to mainstream settings when they are ready.
Windward’s goal is to provide a successful school experience and, at the same time, to build the students’ self-esteem and confidence. Students are encouraged to maintain an attitude of respect and support for teachers and fellow students. The faculty and staff imparts a positive attitude toward learning differences and helps students understand and respect their own strengths. Self-advocacy skills are stressed, particularly with older students. The School also includes as many and as wide a variety of extracurricular and enrichment activities as possible since, in addition to broadening the educational experience, these activities help promote self-assurance and positive social interaction.
The Windward School Community
Windward considers parents and guardians to be essential partners in fostering self-esteem and building effective coping skills. Therefore, a significant effort is made to work with parents in helping them understand and deal with their children’s learning difficulties. There are individual parent/teacher conferences as well as a variety of workshops, seminars, and lectures on issues related to learning disabilities.
In addition to educating its students, parents/guardians, and faculty and staff members, Windward has a strong desire to share its knowledge of learning disabilities with the surrounding community. The School, through the Windward Teacher Training Institute (WTTI), conducts an outreach program that is designed to educate parents/guardians and professionals about learning disabilities and related issues. The positive response to this program, as well as the abundant research showing the deficiencies in most teacher training and professional development programs, indicates a tremendous need for this type of education, and Windward’s goal is to continuously expand this program.