After a year of virtual learning and hybrid sessions, The Deron School of New Jersey Director Lori Alter is focused on getting multiply disabled students reunited with the teachers they need.
“We’re getting back to normal,” she says. “We’ve restarted our special classes. Our music, art, physical education are in the classrooms now. We’re back on track.”
Alter credits the staff at The Deron School, but that’s no surprise.
Everything here starts with teachers, paraprofessionals, behaviorists and speech, occupational and physical therapists jointly following Applied Behavior Analysis programming.
It’s been that way since Deron was founded in 1967 by Alter’s in-laws. Now, there are some 100 students in Union and another 120 in Montclair with a range of special needs that include autism, Down syndrome, cognitive impairment and brain injuries.
“Most staff members know everybody,” Alter says. “We nurture and we take care of them because we want them to be the best they can despite their disability. It’s just what educators do, I believe.”
Not only did Deron School staff work through the year, the campuses actually expanded.
In Union, the school opened a STEAM Lab for science, technology, engineering, the arts and math. In Montclair, a technology lab dubbed Tiger Tech Inc. opens in September. Both offer courses like software, coding and digital citizenship.
And now, Alter is ready to unveil all the new tech to students and parents.
“Because we are family-run, we insist on that familiarity with all of the students and families,” she says. “I know every name of every child in the building. In special education, it is a really unique responsibility and care for what you’re doing.”
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