What does it mean to be certified by The S.E.A.L. Foundation for your special education program? To start, it means that each member of the school community has dedicated themselves to hard work, determination, a hard-fast commitment to serving students who learn differently and a willingness to be trained to understand what it is like to have a learning difference, as well as employing the best strategies to help this population of students succeed. All those qualities must be present to ensure our Pathways Approach Program meets a certain set of high standards; meaning, no matter where or what school our program is located in, families and students can expect the same state of art special education program with cutting-edge services by teachers who have received an extensive degree of training to meet their child’s educational needs.
What schools have become certified? We are delighted to share that over the past two years, seven schools in New Bedford, Fall River and Dartmouth have made that commitment and have worked diligently to master the process of integrating a special education program, our Pathways Approach Program, into their schools for students with learning differences.
At the end of a rigorous certification process, principals and special education teachers gathered with the Mayor of Fall River, the Superintendent of the Diocese and others involved in the process to receive their certification on June 7, 2021. Included in the certification ceremony were: Bishop Stang High School in Dartmouth; Holy Family Holy Name School in New Bedford; and St. Stanislaus School, Espirito Santo School, Holy Name School, Holy Trinity, and St Michael School, all in Fall River.
What did schools need to do in order to becoming certified? This process involved a number of components, including the following:
Staffing and Educational Consultation – Educational consultation within the schools was provided each month for the principals, teachers, and students. Observations of students with learning differences in classrooms were made and together they problem solved solutions to improve student understanding and success. The S.E.A.L. Foundation also helped to hire, fund and place special education teachers in the buildings to build an effective team for students who learn differently.
Orton Gillingham Training for Teachers: Teachers representing kindergarten through second grade, as well as special education, were trained in the Orton Gillingham Approach, a multisensory, systematic and structured program to help students build their reading skills. Instruction in ADHD, anxiety, trauma, executive functioning skills, autism, auditory processing disorder (APD) were among other professional development workshops delivered.
Professional Development: Professional development began with the building of understanding and empathy of exactly what it feels like to have a learning difference. Simulations were held so that participants could experience what it is like to have dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, sensory processing disorder, among other learning differences.
Neurodiversity Training – Teachers also had an extensive presentation on neurodiversity by neuropsychologist, Dr. Richard Solomon, to help participants understand them not as disabilities or disorders, but as perfectly normal neurological differences between people. We all learn differently and have challenges and strengths in our learning profile.
The S.E.A.L. Foundation is so very proud of these schools’ accomplishments in helping all learners reach their potential and succeed. Please contact us with questions about our Pathways Approach Program and professional development workshops.