Program Information

Program Information

The High Road School of Norwalk is an educational program serving the instructional and behavioral needs of adolescents in a supportive and structured environment. The program is designed to focus on personalized academic and behavioral goals so that students can return to a less restrictive educational setting. The goals of the program are as follows:

  • To provide each student with the academic and social skills to be successful in the school, community, and family system
  • To prepare students to return to a less restrictive setting as quickly as possible
  • To prepare students for State of Connecticut testing programs
  • To provide students with consistent and structured tutorials in order to prevent regression and produce both academic and behavioral gains
  • To provide students with an array of cultural and recreational experiences
  • High Road’s interdisciplinary staff—consisting of an Education Director,  Admissions Director, certified special education teachers, teaching assistants, school social workers, school psychologists, and speech-language pathologists—is responsible for providing our comprehensive special education program. The services of a psychiatrist and occupational therapists are also available on an as-needed basis.

The High Road School of Norwalk meets the instructional and behavioral needs of students with exceptionalities including but not limited to: ED, LD/SLD, ASD, TBI, ADHD, communication disorders, and multiple disabilities. Educational course sequencing is based on that of the respective school district and addresses all state standards in order to facilitate reintegration into the public school system and/or progression toward graduation. Our small class sizes of no more than 10 students per teacher and TA ensure that each student receives personal attention and customized instruction that accommodates their particular learning style and their specific strengths and deficits.

Our school operates Monday–Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Throughout the day, core subjects are taught through a rotational tutorial model that entails one-on-one sessions, small-group work, and independent study, enhanced by computer-assisted learning. We also provide physical education, social skills training, health education, vocational education (e.g., culinary arts), and an array of electives like art, Spanish, and computer classes.

In addition to students referred to us by their districts for full-service, longer-term programming, we accept students for diagnostic services as well. Our short-term 40-day Interim Alternative Education Placement (IAEP) program is a fully developed academic and behavioral intervention plan that expertly meets all district needs for interim placements; it encompasses intensive academic intervention, comprehensive behavior management, and individual and group counseling. With the end goal of reintegrating participating students into their public school settings, High Road assists public school districts with appropriate placement evaluation, review, and recommendations to best meet the needs of each student.

To supplement our school’s regular 10-month school year program, we offer an ESY (extended school year) program for eligible students. This summer programming provides academic support with an eye toward preventing regression of skills and maintaining academic and behavioral skills development through such means as subject area tutorials, behavioral instruction, recreational activities, and cultural experiences.

Family involvement continues to be a staple of the High Road model, and parents are always encouraged to visit the school at any time, learn more about our program, and become as involved as they wish in the academic pursuits of their children.

The High Road School of Norwalk does not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, ethnic background, religion, or gender in the admission of students or employment of staff.

The High Road School of Norwalk has a comprehensive Transition Program in place for all high school students. The vocational coordinators on staff address the transition goals listed in each student’s individualized educational plan, as well as coordinate vocational interest inventories, community out-placements, and on-site school jobs.

The first year of the Transition Program entails student participation in a preparatory multi-level curriculum. The Work Readiness class in the morning provides instruction in developing the basic skills needed to succeed in a job. The curriculum also provides individual student support in such areas as hygiene and professional dress, interviewing skills, taking directives, and dealing with unexpected scenarios. Each skill is taught through classroom-based instruction complemented by role-playing, to give the students an opportunity to practice typical work situations. The students must display acquisition of each skill taught before advancing to the next. The Work Readiness class runs 6 to 10 weeks, depending on the extensiveness of the content being taught.

The beginning of this phase of the curriculum also includes administering a Vocational Interest Survey that assesses student interests and aptitudes using a variety of quick-response inventories, as well as a computer-based inventory called CareerScope. The results of these reports guide the future training programs and community experiences in which each student would most likely achieve success by narrowing the employment possibilities to those that reflect their particular preferences and proficiencies.

The second component of the first-year student’s program consists of afternoon job cluster rotations. Based on areas of interest identified through the vocational surveys, students rotate among major training areas we offer to gauge true interest in performing jobs in these fields daily. Rotations are limited to three students at a time, ensuring individualized skill development throughout a two- to three-month period and giving staff and students an accurate record of the depth and breadth of their interest. Long-term success remains a guiding principle in the development of needed skills. During this phase, data collection obtained through ongoing assessments reveals specific supports the student will need to be successful (e.g., a one-to-one job coach, diminishing supervision, etc.).

After narrowing down the possibilities for the most suitable career paths per student, the second year of our Transition Program focuses on functional academics and work readiness remediation and troubleshooting, in the morning, followed by customized training in the relevant field(s) through volunteer opportunities, in the afternoon. Students enter specialized training in a specific field with the expectation of eventually completing the final phase of the program in the third or fourth year by filling a community-based employment need. This can be fulfilled in a variety of ways—through an enclave, through supported employment, or through independent or competitive employment—with the community-based opportunities negotiated and secured by our vocational training staff.

Lastly, the vocational coordinators for these community-based positions conduct periodic surveys with employers to gather feedback on what refinements are needed to continue advancing the student’s skill set. The ultimate goal is sustaining their community-based job en route to a productive and rewarding future in a field well suited to each student.

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The High Road Schools & Academies of Connecticut are diligent about advancing the social skills development of all our students. It is important for each of them to receive social skills instruction that is appropriate for their age, grade level, and disability. Accordingly, our school social workers have infused our daily curriculum with targeted social skills components that help our students reach their fullest potential.

In addition to Rachel’s Challenge—an initiative implemented at all of our schools that promotes kindness and compassion while it works to eradicate bullying among peers—here are a few of the social skills programs we currently employ:

Second Step
The Second Step program can take students from preschool all the way through middle school. Each grade level features developmentally appropriate ways to teach core social-emotional skills such as empathy, emotion management, and problem solving. For grades K–5, the program concentrates on self-regulation, executive functioning, and skills for early learning, to give young kids that extra boost. The middle school program focuses on more advanced skills, like communication techniques, anger management, coping strategies, and decision making. These skills help students stay engaged in school, make good choices, set goals, and avoid peer pressure to become involved with such negative influences as substance abuse, bullying, and cyber bullying.

Circles
This program teaches students relationship boundaries and relationship-specific behaviors. Particularly applicable to students on the autism spectrum and those with mild to moderate cognitive impairment, Circles: Level 1serves as an ideal introduction to the Circle Paradigm by presenting highly abstract concepts in very simple, concrete ways that make them easy for youngsters to understand. Step-by-step dramatizations visually portray the connection between the kind of relationship and the appropriate corresponding level of intimacy (for example, it’s okay to hug your mother, but it’s not okay to hug the mail carrier).

Techniques for Tough Times
This program was originally created to provide field-proven curriculum and training for educators striving to teach life skills to at-risk students. Leigh Vanden Akker and Gayle Threet, a teacher and counselor respectively, developed the program based on years of experience in the trenches. Techniques for Tough Times offers new techniques in violence prevention, conflict resolution, leadership skills, relationship skill building, and counseling. Twelve years of data from the program show increased school attendance, higher grade point averages, and significant decreases in disciplinary referrals to administration. All of this translates to a more positive school environment, in all education settings with all kinds of challenging student populations.