Willie Ross School for the Deaf
School Description: Willie Ross School for the Deaf, located in Western Massachusetts, is one of the most uniquely structured schools for deaf and hard-of- hearing students in the United States. Our school was founded in 1967 by parents who sought innovative and contemporary programs for their children. Their innovation and their focus on academic excellence is their legacy to the generations of students who have attended and who will attend the Willie Ross School. The Willie Ross community is the proud heir to that legacy. We are constantly striving to achieve an instructional environment which will meet the needs of all our students as they develop. Our educational model has permitted us to offer an array of instructional environments to our students. Our approach, which recognizes the value of many different methods, is intended to provide our students with an appropriate and contemporary instructional model, a communication methodology, and additional related services in the students preferred communication mode.
Student's/Disabilities Served: Willie Ross School for the Deaf provides a comprehensive day school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, ages 3-22, in a dual campus model: the Longmeadow Campus and the East Longmeadow Partnership Campus. The school’s goal is academic excellence within a program that fosters appreciation of the dignity of every individual and acceptance of the many cultures within our society. The school encourages the development of academic strengths, social skills, and preparation for successful participation in society upon completion of students’ studies.
Services Provided: The school has two campuses, the Longmeadow Campus with six classrooms and the East Longmeadow Partnership Campus with six classrooms, all staffed by Willie Ross with certified and credentialed professionals. Supervisory personnel (Director of the Longmeadow Campus and Deputy Executive Director) lead teachers and classroom teachers are fully certified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Teachers customarily have masters degrees in deaf education, and all staff are competent in the range of communication styles used at the school.
At present there are 70 enrolled students, ages 3 to 22. An additional number of students, 175, receive audiological and educational support services from the Outreach Division. These students attend their neighborhood public schools. Outreach services are available throughout Western Massachusetts. The division also supports an Infant-Toddler program for newborn infants and young children diagnosed with hearing loss.
The Willie Ross School for the Deaf has the capacity to respond to the needs of our students from age three through high school. The option of being placed at one of our two campuses allows our students to be the beneficiaries of programs which are tailored to meet their needs on an individual basis. As their needs change and evolve over time, the Willie Ross School has the capacity to offer programs and services which will respond to those changing needs.
Willie Ross School for the Deaf offers a range of services and a range of instructional settings which are coordinated with and follow the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Upon completion of the academic curriculum and passing the required MCAS tests, students at the Partnership Campus will graduate, receiving a diploma. Other students receive a Certificate of Completion upon reaching the age of 22.
Willie Ross School for the Deaf offers a range of communication methods tailored to individual needs. The methods are intended to develop fully the academic strengths of each student. In addition, our related services provide opportunities for the development of expressive skills through sign language, spoken language, or through simultaneous communication. Auditory processing skills and access to all of our programs is enhanced by classroom soundfield systems, personal FM units, cochlear implants, and support for the use of residual hearing. Students at the East Longmeadow Partnership Campus participate in mainstreaming opportunities with age-appropriate hearing peers with sign language or oral interpreters, and on occasion with no interpreters necessary. Mainstreaming is offered on an incremental basis to students whose particular academic needs may be better served in an inclusionary setting.
The School- to -Work Program is supported by a coordinator and assistant who manage a full program of in-school support for job skills training, as well as on-campus and in the community mainstreaming at a number of cooperating businesses and organizations. This Program operates from the Longmeadow Campus and is also available to students at the junior and senior levels at the Partnership Campus.
At Willie Ross School for the Deaf we are dedicated to offering an academic program which will maximize the intellectual abilities of all of our students. We are interested in advancing academic achievement, and not on advocating for any particular communication or educational philosophy.
Dr. Louis Abbate
Website address: http://willierossschool.org