Many students at the Y.A.L.E. School need instruction and support year-round so the school provides Extended School Year services (ESY) on three campuses to meet this need. Each program is uniquely designed as follows:
Voorhees: For Students with Autism
At The Y.A.L.E. School’s Voorhees Campus, ESY services for students with autism run Monday through Thursday, from July 2nd through August 23rd.
“Our ESY program is very similar to the program we provide during the regular school year. We focus on academics, life skills, prevocational skills, and fine and gross motor learning,” said Ann Davidson, the campus principal. “We use the same data collection system, and we continue to work with students on all their IEP goals, so there is very little interruption in student learning.”
The ESY program has added benefits, too.
“During the summer, students use our playground to work on gross motor skills, such as walking on a balance beam, riding a bike, and climbing the rock wall. We play games like kickball, baseball, and soccer to work on team skills,” Ms. Davidson added.
Classroom picnics, a mainstay of the ESY program, give students another opportunity to address IEP goals—like sitting appropriately, waiting, and eating in public—and help them generalize those skills for use in new settings.
Community outings are an integral part as well, and give students added opportunities to work on goals and connect the information they learn in the classroom to the community and the world around them.
For example, students might grow plants and learn about the life cycle of animals, and then take a nature hike to Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford to see native plants, as well as see animals and insects in their actual habitats. There are also opportunities for learning at community playgrounds and restaurants, where students will work on skills, such as paying for purchases, ordering food, and social integration with peers.
“It is a well-rounded program that offers unique opportunities not present during the regular school year,” said Ms. Davison. “The program still has a rigorous academic and data collection system, and is able to tie all of the information learned in the classroom to the community and environment.”
Cherry Hill: For Students with Social Learning Disabilities
At the Cherry Hill campus, ESY services for students with social learning disabilities, Asperger’s, and High Functioning Autism begin July 5th and run through August 15th. The program is open to all students who attend the Cherry Hill, Medford, and Mansfield Township campuses during the year (with the exception of students requiring structured behavior plans). And, to ensure continuity of learning, staff from those three campuses teach at Cherry Hill’s ESY program.
“We organize instruction around a theme each summer, and this year, the upper school theme is focused on transition and preparation for life after high school,” said Stephanie Jefferys, a supervisor of the Cherry Hill Upper School. “We will be using an online math program in which students do real-world math, such as handling money and paying taxes.”
The Lower School theme this year—“It’s Out of this World”—reflects the interest in the solar system shared by many students. To prevent academic regression, which is common among students who attend Y.A.L.E., the curriculum includes English and Math studies. Students will use Accelerated Reader, an online reading program that allows them to read books at their own pace and then be tested. The program prints out students’ scores and assessments.
Community-based instruction is a big part of summer learning at Y.A.L.E., where students will take six trips devoted to enhancing social skills and building on academics. In addition, once a week, students will have the opportunity to swim at an area pool, and receive instruction, if needed.
Northfield: For Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disabilities
At The Y.A.L.E School’s Northfield campus, the ESY curriculum is individualized to meet each student’s specific needs. The program will run from July 5th through August 15th.
“This year, the theme for the summer is the Olympics,” said Al Doyle, principal of the Northfield campus. “Cross curricular learning will address academic goals in math, reading, and writing, and will include instruction designed to build and maintain social skills.”