Conserve School and Learning Difficulties

Conserve School is not designed specifically for students with learning difficulties or disabilities like ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia. As an independent school, Conserve School is not obligated to provide the support services typically available through public school systems. While Conserve School staff members believe in tailoring education to make it as personalized and meaningful as possible for each student, our focus is on environmental stewardship. Our staff members do not have specialized training, experience, or responsibilities related to learning difficulties or disabilities. However, it is possible that students who compensate well for learning issues may be able to succeed here.

To help you decide if you’d like to pursue applying to Conserve School, we’ve prepared the following list of typical teaching practices and accommodations that Conserve School can and cannot provide. In many cases, Conserve School routinely provides these options for all students, and, in some cases, teachers are able to make exceptions from standard practices for certain students. Teachers’ flexibility in altering instructional practices varies from subject to subject and from assignment to assignment, so we cannot guarantee that any particular practice or accommodation will be in place at all times or in all classes. High school-level mathematics, for example, is at too high a level of abstraction to teach in an entirely hands-on manner, and Advanced Placement courses must adhere to stringent College Board requirements and syllabi. Ultimately, the teaching practices used in the classroom are determined by the teacher in consultation with the Director of Student Instruction and other Conserve School administrators.

Students with learning issues, and their parents and guardians, should read this list carefully and discuss whether or not the applicant would be likely to thrive in this setting, without specialized learning support. If after reading this information, you decide that you would like to go forward with your application, and you do anticipate that accommodations might be necessary, please include the following with your application: 1) documentation that describes in detail the specific learning issues; 2) a description of accommodations that have been used successfully in the past; 3) any recent IEP or Section 504 plan documents. Once we have these materials, we can discuss further with you how good a fit Conserve School is likely to be.

Conserve School staff members utilize these teaching practices routinely.

  • Class sizes are generally small.
  • Assignments and activities emphasize engaged, hands-on learning (to the extent possible, given the subject and course type).
  • Assignments are often open-ended, draw on creative skills, and involve student choice.
  • Students who need to get up and move around frequently are allowed to do so.
  • Students may listen to audiobooks to supplement assigned readings.
  • Teachers write down major assignments and instructions as well as delivering them orally.
  • Students prepare most assignments using a keyboard rather than handwriting.
  • Students use calculators (please note, however, that the College Board forbids the use of calculators while taking the AP Environmental Science exam; science teachers will consequently expect students to do math assignments without a calculator).
  • Teachers make a sincere effort to get to know each student as an individual, and to take individual differences into account as they plan activities and assignments, to the extent possible.
  • Teachers work one-on-one with students in class and after class in order to give personalized attention and, if necessary, extra tutoring. Teachers are available once each week to provide homework assistance during evening study hours and, because they live on campus, are inclined to offer assistance when requested at other times. (Teachers are not required to provide students with a specific amount of tutoring time and must by necessity work around their busy professional and personal schedules, so this additional tutoring is limited. Typically, Conserve School teachers are generous with their time.)

Conserve School is able to provide these services in selected cases and in selected circumstances.

  • A student with relatively low processing speed may be given extra time on tests, smaller quantities of homework, or extensions on assignments.
  • A student who has difficulty demonstrating mastery in one way may be allowed to demonstrate it in an alternative manner (for example, orally instead of in writing).
  • A student with difficulties reading out loud (low fluency) may be given notice and opportunity to practice before being asked to read out loud in front of others. Such as student may also arrange with the teacher to opt out of reading aloud, unless reading aloud is central to the assignment (such as a public speaking unit).
  • Conserve will approve, on a case-by-case basis, student use of electronic aids (such as text-to-speech computer programs).

Conserve School is not able to provide these accommodations.

  • Making teachers available for hire after-hours as personal tutors.
  • Arranging for, or providing access to, outside tutors to support special areas of difficulty.
  • Providing a reader to read assignments or tests to students.
  • Providing a note-taker for a student.
  • Providing a scribe for a student.
  • Writing down a list of daily assignments for the student.
  • Checking that the student has written down their assignments in an assignment notebook each day.

A note on audio books:

Students are welcome to bring with them audio copies of readings used by Conserve School (a list of typical readings in available, upon request), and Conserve School maintains a small collection of audio books for some required class readings. In addition, Conserve School maintains on our computer network a collection of electronic audio files. Conserve School cannot promise, however, to provide an audio book or audio file for all required course readings.

Revised 08/06/2015

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