The Matheny School
Mission and Vision
Matheny’s mission is to foster an integrated educational experience for students with a diverse range of disabilities. Each student is given opportunities to reach his or her maximum potential for independence and to transition into post-secondary functional and community-based programs. Visits to the community play a critical role in the program of every student. Skills and behaviors learned in school are practiced and used during interactive trips to various community resources.
Matheny’s vision is to continue to be a premier resource for instructional adaptation that enables students with disabilities to reach their maximum potential. The education program is designed to provide academics, combined with functional life skills for all students. Individual Education Plans (IEPs) drive the goals and objectives addressed in all major areas: academics (NJCCCS), which also include activities of daily living, leisure/recreation, community and vocational. All goals are functional, age-appropriate and taught in a variety of settings, both in and out of the classroom.
A key to Matheny’s educational philosophy is its interdisciplinary approach – integrating therapy treatment, social services and psychology into the educational program. The expertise of speech-language pathologists, physical, occupational, music and recreation therapists, social workers and psychologists is always available and is provided in collaboration with the classroom teachers.
Therapy services are provided during the school day, either in the classroom integrated into the classroom routine, or as individual “pull-out” treatments. The number and frequency of therapy sessions is dictated in each student’s IEP as determined at the annual IEP meeting.
1 to 1 Learning
One student; one computer; one interactive, personalized learning experience in a wireless environment with anytime access to the internet.
That’s the definition of "1 to 1 learning" by the Metiri Group, a national consulting firm specializing in K-20 learning technology. The staff at the Matheny School believes that 1 to 1 learning is the perfect tool for Matheny students. Because many of our students are non-verbal, they often feel cut off from the world around them.
1 to 1 learning offers Matheny students an opportunity to express themselves and be heard in a world where they often have no voice. "Our students," explains Sheryl Gavaras, principal, “have never been offered an opportunity to have their own laptops to enhance learning. They have always had to utilize the computers whenever someone was available to help them. Now, our students, through the use of adaptive equipment, are able to have laptops 24/7. They can e-mail friends, complete assignments and take virtual tours to places they might never be able to visit.”
The 1 to 1 learning experiment is currently being tried out in a single class of older, transition students. The project is funded by a "Good Neighbor Grant" from the Verizon Foundation. “With one switch,” says Gavaras, "students can operate the mouse and the scroll bar. This opens the doors to the world at large and gives them positive feelings of self-worth. This enables our students to participate in the future."
Many students at Matheny are non-verbal, and they are provided with state-of-the-art assistive technology including a variety of augmentative and alternative communication systems. Computers are used extensively in each classroom with a full range of specialized switch access hardware and appropriate software. In addition, a complete assessment of speech and language is provided, and a program is developed and implemented to meet each student’s individual need. The assessment and treatment includes: oral motor speech; respiration and articulation; augmentative and alternative communication assessment; and feeding/dysphagia.
Thanks to a $50,000 “Good Neighbor” grant from the Verizon Foundation, Matheny has been able to expand its distance learning program, which visually connects Matheny students with other students from schools such as Far Hills Country Day School in Far Hills and the Monticello Middle School in Monticello, Iowa.
The technology, from Apple Computer, produces video similar to television and audio that is crystal clear. The result is an instantaneous shared classroom experience. The images are projected larger than life on a screen in each classroom, enabling even students with low vision to participate. Students in both locations interact with each other and share thoughts and ideas. Matheny students benefit greatly from the program because it gives them the ability to communicate with students who they normally wouldn’t encounter. And it is an enlightening experience for students in other schools.
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools