Our Approach to Special Education
Our school programs are designed to help our students meet educational, emotional, behavioral and medical needs, while bringing them closer to achieving their own personal goals.
Our year-round special education program is fully licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as both a Private Licensed School and an Approved Private School, and as a result we adhere to all aspects of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. All of our classrooms are staffed by certified special education teachers, supported by direct support professionals, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, clinicians, psychologists, and nurses.
Our approach is person-centered and focuses on each student’s strengths, interests, abilities, aptitudes, learning needs and educational levels – utilizing the Individualized Education Planning (IEP) process to identify the best possible objectives and goals. We recognize the importance of giving a voice to the student and parents in all aspects of the learning process. In fact, we embrace an open-door policy for parents and family members in an effort to ensure the maximum experience for our students.
Educational Experience in Special Needs
Students with disabilities often lack key skills such as social interactions or communications, which may lead to classroom behaviors. Our specialized classrooms are arranged by skill levels, to give every student the opportunity to succeed. Additionally, we recognize the interplay between skills and behavior. So while the main focus of our education program, is on reducing the behaviors that serve as barriers in the classroom, we aim to increase motivation to build skills in the areas of communication and socialization that fosters a willingness to learn.
All of our schools have implemented School-wide Positive Behavior Support Plans that are aligned with the Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support recommendations (PAPBS). SWPBS is an evidenced-based practice that is rooted in an applied behavior analysis (ABA) approach which focuses on the behavior of an individual and the environment.
Our schools focus on teaching all students core expectations and concentrate on reinforcing positive choices made by students. Each building has universal expectations that students are asked to follow in different parts of the school (e.g., hallway, classroom, cafeteria). Students are taught what each expectation means and provided examples of how to demonstrate them in all areas of the building. Throughout the school year, students are retaught and practice meeting these expectations. Teachers and staff members provide students specific positive feedback when they see a student meeting an expectation. Students have the opportunity to spend their rewards at the school store.
To date, our schools have implemented Tier One of the program which is directed at all students and includes teaching relevant social skills, providing frequent positive feedback for expected behaviors, and ensuring appropriate learning environments. The SWPBSP fosters a respectful and supportive environment that enables students to be more open to learning. This same approach is carried out in our residential programs creating a 24/7 positive behavior support environment.
We offer stimulating, small class-sizes that are designed to promote evidence-based teaching strategies and self-contained instruction which is essential for children.
This structure enables our faculty and staff to personally know each and every student in our schools, in order to best connect with them academically and individually. We rely on every person in the building to achieve this level of team engagement, which helps provide students with continuous support and maximum resources throughout their educational journey.
In addition to traditional lessons, students participate in adapted physical education, music, art, sensory room, school library and our cooking programs based on their interests, needs and goals. For students who are approaching the working world, we also provide a variety of training experiences that integrate functional academics, skill building, job readiness and work experience both on campus and in the community.
In keeping with our open-door policy, we provide full transparency through a continuous feedback loop, including progress reports five times a year. We believe that this is one of the many critical steps to nurturing successful behavior as it relates to communication, socialization and skill acquisition that ultimately enables a student to integrate back into their home environment.
To learn more about our education programs, contact our Admissions Department at 800-782-3646.
Current 2023 Menus for the Woods Schools: Gardner and Crestwood
Current 2023 Adult Day Program and Residential Menus
Food and Nutrition Services
Woods Services utilizes a commissary-style kitchen that houses a dedicated team of food service professionals. Experienced cooks specialize in different dietary departments including dysphagia, allergens, bakery, produce, and main entrees. Menus are developed by our Registered Dietitians and cater to individuals’ specific dietary needs. These menus provide complete and balanced nutrition for our individuals and staff. The menus follow all requirements of the USDA and the PA Department of Education to participate in the School Nutrition Programs. Food is prepared and delivered to approximately 55 locations by our dedicated delivery drivers. The Food and Nutrition Services Center also provides individuals the opportunity of gainful employment, a cafeteria for meetings and gatherings, and training opportunities for all of Woods Services’ employees.
Woods Services recognizes that wellness and proper nutrition are related to physical well-being, growth, and readiness to learn. We are committed to providing an environment that promotes wellness, proper nutrition, nutrition education and promotion, and regular physical activity as part of the learning experience. Individuals are educated on, and participate in, positive dietary and lifestyle practices that can improve achievement.
To ensure the health and well-being of all individuals, Woods provides:
- A nutrition program that is consistent with Federal and State guidelines.
- Curriculum and programs are designed to educate individuals about proper nutrition and lifelong physical activity, in accordance with State Board of Education curriculum regulations and academic standards.
- Opportunities for developmentally appropriate physical activity.
Woods Services has a Woods Wellness Policy, which details these goals. They are reviewed and updated every three years. You can read our wellness assessment documents here:
A Wellness Committee exists in order to implement and improve the Wellness Policy. Members meet quarterly to discuss the policy, goals, and progress. We invite you to join the committee to help our clients thrive. If you are interested in participating, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
School Nutrition Programs
All children in Woods residential program participate in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) which is available 12 months of the year. All students at Woods receive a free lunch regardless of eligibility for program participation. The School Nutrition Programs (SNP) are available for all families in need, and more information can be found at the USDA’s Child Nutrition Website.
For non-residential students, School Breakfast Program information can be found on https://www.fns.usda.gov/sbp/school-breakfast-program-sbp or please contact the State agency responsible for the administration of the Program in your State: https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/school-meals-contacts
The USDA also provides free or reduced-price meals for children in need for the summer via the Summer Food Service Program. Families that do not have adequate access to nutritious meals may use any of the following methods to locate sites that serve free meals to children during the summer:
•Call 1.866.3Hungry or 1.877.8Hambre
•Text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877877 during the summer months
•Text “SUMMER MEALS” or “VERANO” to 97779.
•Use the website: www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks
•Use the site locator for smartphones – Rangeapp.org
An additional resource for families: Family Guide to Electronic Benefit to Cover Cost of Breakfast and Lunch – Summer 2023
It is our policy to guarantee each individual their civil rights and to educate all staff so they can exercise these rights as appropriate.