To encounter a school that does what Hillside does for children with learning disabilities, your child would need to travel 60 miles beyond the Greater Lehigh Valley.
No other school in our area can offer your child and your family what we offer.
Our success with children with learning disabilities begins with very small class sizes. Why? Because we don’t want any child getting lost.
It continues with highly attuned faculty and staff. Why? Because we want the right people helping your child.
It culminates with our approach to students: “individualized learning” – using the methods and strategies that we’ve developed, refined, and instituted across the curriculum to reinforce the skills and content we teach. These methods help transform our students into informed self-advocates and eager learners.
Here are some of the research-based methods and strategies we use to reach our students successfully:
Providing Differentiated Instruction
Our job is to educate students who have not thrived in traditional academic settings. Our job is also to help them identify what they need to succeed in any classroom or any social setting. Because of our extremely small class size, we tailor instruction to each child we serve. Teachers are trained to recognize the differences among their students and adjust lessons appropriately. We even assess children according to their most successful learning methods.
Our faculty know full well that what works for one child may not work for another.
Teaching Self-Understanding and Advocacy
Before we do academic benchmark testing, we evaluate children’s and parents’ understanding of the issues at hand. We help the family take the mystery out of the child’s struggles. Now he or she can answer the questions, “Why can’t I read?” or “Why can’t I spell like my friends?” Once our students and families realistically understand these issues, we begin to promote self-advocacy: educating them to identify – and know how to ask for – what they need to succeed in any classroom or social setting.
Then we begin to focus on the academics.
Teaching Executive Skills
We provide explicit, daily instruction and emphasis on Executive Skills as these skills – the ability to self-regulate, manage time, plan, and organize – are critical to success in all aspects of life, not just the classroom. Our students learn to understand what each Executive Skill means, and reflect on those in which they excel and those in which they need to focus. Finally, they learn to apply these new-found skills to themselves.
Teaching the EmPOWERTM Writing Method
Designed and developed specifically for students with learning disabilities, EmPOWERTM provides a systematic approach to expository writing, giving students the framework to write, regardless of the subject they are studying. Whether it be writing an essay, a science lab report, a book report, or solving a word problem, students know the steps to follow to produce successful results.
The technology component of a Hillside education is important. We work with a breadth of assistive technology tools and applications like Learning Ally, Snap-and-Read, and Bookshare that have been created to help students work through their challenges. We constantly expand our catalog to meet our students’ needs. Additionally, all students attend a weekly technology class and have daily access to both laptops and iPads so they develop great comfort with these devices.
Providing Daily Communication to Families
Communication between our faculty and our families is one key to our students’ success. Teachers provide daily classroom updates through our Parent Portal, and parents are encouraged to contact them if they are concerned. We focus on a communication triangle among parents, students, and faculty so that everyone is as informed as possible.
“We have the data to support the success that Hillside students have. But the emotional component to teaching these students is what rivets us. Our students take great comfort knowing they are among other children who also learn differently. Being part of this community removes the anxiety and fear they experienced before Hillside, develops self-confidence and a joy of learning; and promotes a community of empathetic and patient young people, which is so important for the days after Hillside.”– Donna Henry, Head of School