VISTA High School Program … a Vision of P.G. Chambers School
Always on the cutting edge, P.G. Chambers School became acutely aware that there were a limited number of available high school programs that could provide students with multiple disabilities an enriched curriculum in a least restrictive setting.
VISTA, a collaborative high school program between PGCS and Roxbury Public Schools, was born from this need. The goal was simple: to provide high school students with multiple disabilities the opportunity to go to school with students who do not have disabilities. The task was complex. In order to achieve age appropriate core curriculum content standards, high school students with multiple disabilities need programs that are flexible, supportive, and meaningful. To further students’ academic achievement, social success, and achieve greater levels of independence, varied levels of adaptations, services and program options needed to be available. VISTA began with five students, three PGCS graduates and two from the Roxbury, New Jersey School system.
The program operates much like PGCS, in that school districts can place students with disabilities in VISTA and pay tuition to Roxbury. PCGS and Roxbury have combined resources to implement this program where students participate in general education classes with support, a combination of general education and special education services, or intensive special education services.
A “homeroom” C122 is available to the students and equipped with staff, appropriate technology, and a learning environment that supports individual goals in mobility, ADL (activities of daily living), communication, and learning. For some, the classroom may represent their educational home base, for others a safe haven to relax.
Technology is key to the success of the program. Each student can contact the homeroom team using Smartphones, texting or emailing at any time during the school day, when assistance is needed. This has taken away the discomfort of a large school environment that many students with disabilities experience in high school settings. Technology also helps students communicate with others using iPads, communication devices, and mainstream tablets and smartphones; all part of the typical teenage landscape. Edee Levey, former PGCS principal and key visionary for VISTA, states that the first year of VISTA has exceeded expectations.
“Students are going places on their own and not limited to the homeroom, broadening their horizons from our small private setting. Our students are advocating for themselves, and the friendships that have developed are outstanding. Instead of isolating these young people with disabilities, VISTA has brought students together, in fact, the general education population are using C122 as their own quiet place to recharge. Who could ask for more?” – Edee Levey, former PGCS principal and key visionary for VISTA
For more information about the VISTA program, please contact Kristin Young, Director of Contract Services at email@example.com or call 973-829-8484.