When I was reading the praise from parents and teachers on our website, I thought it would be nice to add one from the perspective of a Teacher Assistant. I have worked at The Child School as a Teacher Assistant for 24 years, many being with the elementary school children. Now I work in Legacy with young men and women who are taller than me and sometimes feel they are wiser than me!
The Child School is my home away from home. When I began working at The Child School there were only 5 classrooms with our school hall serving as the lunchroom. Eventually we moved to 33rd Street in Manhattan and expanded to include a Middle School, and then, of course, to Roosevelt Island with more space for our budding Legacy High School. I have watched the school grow in size and in experience and become a place that I am proud to be a part of.
When you are a Teacher Assistant, it is not just a job, it has to be lived. It has to be a commitment – something inside you that makes it your life. You need to be dedicated if you want the children to be successful. Each year I am assigned a teacher and a class of children. My job is to support the teacher and each student. As we get to know each other I become their mom, their coach, their referee, their organizer. I listen. I keep them safe. I try to meet each child's needs, spot potential problems to prevent them from happening. As I get to know my children, I set goals for them. The goals do not need to be major, just little things that help them get a little step closer to the person they will become. I don't see them as "Special Ed." but as children who can learn and become independent adults.
As the year progresses the students and I learn to trust each other. We become a family with all of the joys that a family shares and with the occasional irritations that family members may bring. The year goes quickly and by June, when I am really attached, the class moves on to another teacher and teacher assistant and I have a new assignment. The thing is that the children move on much easier. They form new ties, and never give me a thought. But this class, these children will be a part of me forever. I watch them grow up and graduate. I see them come back to visit as adults. Now they remember me and appreciate me. They are good people. This is my reward. I see them and know that I have accomplished something by being a small part of their life.
Every year at Thanksgiving we go around the table and say three things we are thankful for. This year, when it became his turn at the table to speak, my son said that the three things he was grateful for was his Mom, his Country and his school.
Inside myself I was yelling "YES!! ME TOO!!"
We came to The Child School four years ago after a heart-breaking two years of "trying" a mainstream school. My son was distant, angry, and unwilling to focus on his studies. I was so grateful I was able to get into this school at all. It was the only one on my list. I guess one school name is not a list—ha ha. So I guess you could just say that I was focused.
And I was lucky. There was one seat left! Because he was held-back for the past two years, this was the right grade (!!). And the Admissions Director was so kind. When we met for the interview she looked at my child and said "I recognize him. He's one of our kids." I almost cried. She was saying he will fit in here.
This is a slow start to telling our story but I'll cut to the chase now to just say that there are so many special instances where the school stepped in to make a situation just designed for him, just to get him to stay in the classroom, then just to get him to follow the class work, then just to get him to take turns, raise his hand before speaking, be polite, do his homework.
One step at a time, this school found a way to keep him improving.
When he graduated Middle School he got a Most Improved Certificate at the ceremony. Believe me, it was true. He had made so much progress!!! He liked school! He had friends!
Now he is even getting good grades and talking about college.
This testimony has been hard to write because I knew it would make me cry. But these are happy tears. I know that my son has made so much progress that he is not going back to where he was – not ever! It is as if this school has carefully loaded him into a slingshot and has hurled him out into another world. The trajectory is high. It is exciting to see how far he will go now!
Coco St. Clement
Reflecting on our son's experience at Legacy High School, the first word that popped into my mind, believe it or not, was love – the kind of love that reveals itself through compassion, caring, support and encouragement.
Legacy saw our son's potential and ran with it. It was easy to recognize that our son was bright. It was quite another feat to cooperatively work together as a school to envision him as a mature, socially adept, calm, coping young adult who could develop strategies to handle anxieties and cope with everyday frustrations that are so common in all our lives. But that is exactly what Legacy High did for our son.
Under Vishu's guidance, and now Melissa's, everyone - the psychologists, the counselors, the teachers, the teachers' aides, the paraprofessionals and even the office staff - contributed to Max's maturation into a well-rounded coping teen. As we sit here today, applying to colleges (and coping with all the anxiety and anticipation that brings!) we are grateful that the Child School/Legacy High School took a chance on our son. We will always be a part of their family.
Joanne Watson and Stan Finkelberg
This is Austin's final year at The Child School. As we look forward to him attending college, we also reflect back on his years with you at The Child School.
Austin has been at TCS since the Third Grade. TCS taught Austin, from a young age, to be organized, encouraged him to work hard and gave him the confidence and skills to achieve his short-term and long-term goals. Austin was always very conscientious about completing all of his homework every night. However, TCS also taught him the presence of mind and confidence to take charge whenever that could not be the case. When there were events, mostly caused by us as parents, which prevented him from finishing all of his homework on a particular night, Austin would write a note for us to sign explaining that he could not finish his homework and promising to hand it in a day later – which he always did. Thank you for your flexibility during these times but more so for teaching him the courage to ask.
Legacy High School allowed Austin to always challenge himself and he not only met each challenge but he exceeded all of our expectations. TCS taught Austin to never let any learning disability hinder him from achieving and exceeding his goals. Austin knew he learned differently. It often took him longer to learn certain skills which other children took for granted. He overcame these obstacles. Austin did not speak in full sentences until after he started at The Child School. But knowing him now, you'd never know it. We were so proud that he gave the valedictorian speech at middle school graduation. You will be proud to know that he continues to hone his skills as a public speaker. This summer, at his internship with the Manhattan District Attorney's office, Austin prepared and argued a moot court case in a real courtroom.
Legacy High School has also taught Austin to give back and has provided him opportunities to do so both in the TCS community and elsewhere in New York City. Austin is working as a teacher's assistant providing tutoring to younger children in the elementary school. Austin volunteers at the Masbia Soup Kitchen in Flatbush every Wednesday. He is also a leader in the New York Cares program where he helps to coordinate the coat drive and the holiday gifts program for underprivileged children. Austin also participates, along with other high school students from throughout NYC, in Citizen's Committee for Children's Youth Action program as a youth advocate.
The many extra-curricular activities available buttressed his confidence and provided him opportunities to literally see the world. Austin is on this year's championship soccer team (as he was in 10th grade). His annual participation in the June play while in elementary and middle school gave him the confidence to perform in front of an audience. Austin has always enjoyed the annual ski trip as well as the Spring and Fall trips to Costa Rica, Panama, Spain, Niagara Falls, Washington DC and, of course, The Great Wolf Lodge. He will miss these trips with TCS but they gave him a lifetime of fond memories and a lifelong interest in traveling.
In sum, during his years at TCS and Legacy High School, we have seen Austin transform from a skinny 7 year-old boy into a well-rounded adult citizen of the world. Austin worked hard with us towards this goal and you have been more than a great partner. As with so many other facets of Austin's life, we feel that we have exceeded our goals so far.
We are grateful for all of our and Austin's years here and will cherish the remaining time at Legacy High School.
Ken Chin and Lisa Lim
Our son has vastly improved in every way—academically, socially and emotionally—in his three years at The Child School. We knew the minute we walked into the school that we were in a special place. The kids were calm, the halls were orderly and teachers and students seemed happy.
The Child School is an extraordinary school. The administration and the staff are so dedicated and work very hard to push each child to reach their potential. The classes follow the New York State curriculum and the children are learning on- grade material, with modifications as needed. The teachers and assistants work closely with the students to make sure that lessons are learned, reviewed and applied.
The school strongly emphasizes academics, with the school dividing up for math so that students may learn on their own level which may or may not correspond to their grade. Reading is done in small groups with as much individualized help as is necessary.
There is a strong social component to school: With a population that is a microcosm of New York, each child is taught the importance of respecting each other and working as a team. The staff tries a variety of ways to support the students socially, with the advice and collaboration of the extremely strong social work team. Understanding that students will be part of the real world, the teachers make great efforts to ensure that they will have the tools to be part of it.
Our child loves school and goes willingly and happily every morning. What greater testimony is that?
Best regards, Ronda and Frank
My seven-year-old son has attended The Child School since he started school, and it's been a great three years. As the parent of a child with differences, it's important to us that he remains confident, can be himself, and is understood. The Child School provides that environment.
Regina and his teachers have always gone out of their way to make sure his academic needs are met, ensuring that he continues to be challenged and loves what he's learning. My son is also taught compassion and what it takes to be part of a community. In addition, his teachers continually work on behavioral programs giving him tools to improve and learn self control.
This year, he is enjoying his "Wacky Wednesday" biking program and is excited to start swimming. These little extras are a great way to get his energy out and help make school fun, while learning useful skills.
We're grateful for everything the school has provided and are looking forward to what the future holds.
Laura & Joe
Thank you for welcoming our son this fall into the Elementary School at The Child School, His father and I are thrilled at how quickly your professional staff works to acclimate the children into this new, thriving, warm and nurturing culture. We are grateful for the unique approach and tenacity of the teacher and team and have seen wonderful demonstrations of the learning process exhibited during (our time doing) home work and other tasks our son executes at home. The habits we have nurtured are really paying off! He sets the dinner table, says the nightly prayer before the meal and sits at the table to enjoy his meal -- prior to the fall, he would sort of eat on the run while playing during mealtime. We support and believe in the "coaching" philosophy and role parents are asked to play to enable structure and the love of learning process. Its working and we see the progress!! Keep up the great work!!
Sharon Nelson and Anthony Beauzile
My son, Aaron, has had the wonderful fortune of attending Legacy High School over the past 4 years. We were incredibly lucky that there was a spot for him in 8th grade, as he was at a point in his growth where he was in need of a more challenging academic program, and at the same time, soon to age out of his prior school. Having speech delay, fine motor weaknesses, auditory delay, difficulty in self-advocating, and other challenges meant he would need a very special place to grow, learn, fit in, be comfortable, and yet still be academically challenged. Over the years, I'd learned that this was no small feat.
Since my son is inquisitive and bright, and loves researching everything on the internet, he checked out The Child School / Legacy High School's website, and before even visiting the school, he exclaimed, "Wow, check out The Child School, Mom! It looks awesome!" Needless to say, witnessing his intense interest, I immediately followed up and scheduled a visit.
I have vivid memories of sitting with Sandy Cox, as we were undergoing the application and admissions process. Her help and support through this process was excellent, and she made it much easier to tackle. As she explained about The Child School / Legacy High School's features, both my son and I and knew we had hit the jackpot! The academic programs, enriching, fun "Wacky Wednesday" choices and its great assortment of wonderful after-school sports teams and activities had my son wide-eyed and smiling. With all these great choices, he looked like he was as excited as a kid in a candy store! He and I knew this was going to be the perfect fit for him. We thank God every day that Aaron was accepted into the school! It has truly changed him for the better.
Aaron loved his teachers and therapists from day one. He came home chattering about his first day, and almost four years later, he still talks to me passionately about his experiences at school on a daily basis. This alone is more than half the battle! Aaron has accomplished so much more than we have ever expected between 8th grade and 11th grade: He enjoys and looks forward to going to school every day, he has become independent in his work and deeply cares about it, his grades are excellent, and he finds the curriculum challenging, but attainable. He has played on the Junior Varsity Basketball team, the soccer team (he had never played sports "competitively" before), he won the Science Fair two years in a row, and he has been able to tackle Regents exams and do very well on them, which is something we were not sure he would be able to accomplish. He has a love of different languages, which was awakened by his Italian teacher, and this interest in languages is being nurtured by his studies in both Spanish and Italian. Since being at Legacy High School, Aaron has had the desire to become more independent overall, so what he is learning in school is extending into all other areas of his life. The friends he has made in school are very special, and he socializes with them frequently, even on weekends and on days off.
Teachers, therapists and all other staff have been phenomenal, and go beyond the call of duty with our kids. I have felt that communication between staff and parents is excellent. Someone always gets back to me quickly if I e-mail with any issues. As a parent, having that sense that the staff and we, at home, are on the same page is priceless gift. In addition, everyone at the school is warm and welcoming, always willing to help and support as much as possible.
Presently, being in his Junior year, Aaron and his classmates are having to think about their future, whether that be college for some, or vocational paths for others. He has a "college prep class" once a week, where he is being supported through the college process, every step of the way. I have an older "typically developing" child, who found the college process to be incredibly overwhelming and anxiety-producing. Thankfully, Aaron is feeling positive and excited about going to college because of the support he is getting in this area at school. His college prep class is also making him think not only about his college career, the application processes and upcoming SAT's, but his College Counselor has him thinking even deeper about his possible goals in life for the foreseeable future, focusing on his strengths and continuing to encourage him to self advocate when the need arises. In addition, the PA has arranged "College Nights" at the school, so that parents can connect to various colleges to find out about their specific programs and what they might provide in terms of support for our students.
Both parents and students are supported throughout the process. We are looking forward to the rest of Aaron's experiences at Legacy High School, for the remainder of 11th grade, and for his Senior year. Thanks to Legacy High School, Vishu Grover (Executive Director extraordinaire!) and a wonderful, caring and excellent staff, Aaron has become a more positive teen, pictures himself going to college and has dreams for himself that he did not have before. We will cherish Aaron's time in this school for years to come.
Dear Child School/Legacy High School
I moved to New York for a one year adventure and found myself at The Child School for 15 years and truly in the adventure of my life. The school was located on 33rd Street in Manhattan, an old parochial school building. I rang the front door buzzer and a new chapter of my life began. Legacy, was just starting and in the second year I began my career as the Legacy High School English Teacher. I moved up to the 4th floor (8 long flights of stairs) with Popie and Peter who were my teaching partners in the high school program. I have come to feel this as home as we have graduated approximate 380 students. You don't know how proud I am to have been a part of the lives of all of these remarkable young people. As Legacy grew, I grew.
The Child School/Legacy High School has always been the innovator as a school for students with learning and behavioral challenges. It didn't take long for me to understand that this wasn't just an ordinary school, but a school with a different approach and I was going to grow. I was amazed to tears at least once a week those first few months. Here, special education children were proud of themselves. They were gifted in so many ways and this school allowed their special talents to shine. We were one of the first special education schools to offer a Regent's diploma to our Legacy students. Can they do it? Of course they can!
The Child School taught me to hold my students to a high standard and they would respond. It showed me how to provide structure in a soft way, to plan my lessons in such a way that made learning easy. I learned to recognize which behaviors the student could not control and which they could. I learned that is was okay to have a learning challenge and to talk about it. The school gave me the opportunity to work collaboratively with my teacher assistant, the related service providers, the school administrators and the parents. When we all work together to support our children magic happens.
I love this school. The Child School offered personal growth as a professional, from honing my skills as a teacher to joining the administrative team as a Legacy Supervisor and as Admissions Director. It has embraced me as it embraces each student. We learn together and grow together. I look back over these 15 years and feel fortunate to have stumbled over that ad for a teacher in the NY Times. If you are a perspective parent who has a child who needs a very special school, you too, have stumbled into a great opportunity. Let your adventure begin.
"To work at The Child School is a rich and pleasant experience. The campus-like environment of Roosevelt Island provides a calm environment of incomparable beauty. Even the backdrop is stunning - with the serenity of the east river and the Manhattan skyline. Each season brings new pleasures, such as in the springtime with the rows of cherry blossom. There is an array of sports fields and parks/gardens which line the thin isle and the students have the opportunity to enjoy these precious sites. Here, the knowledgeable and experienced professional staff is committed to each and every student. It is with great respect and patience that they work to help each individual reach his/her full potential.
Over my decade of experience as a math teacher at the Child School I grew professionally and personally. With students and families of such diverse backgrounds I felt motivated to meet and surpass expectations. I felt safe and encouraged to be creative, innovative and compassionate. The nurturing environment allowed me to be an inspiring mentor for the students during their academic careers. The methodology at The Child School is time-tested as former students visit after graduating and come back to share the challenges they transcended and accomplishments they have achieved."
Dear Child School,
As a teacher at The Child School/Legacy High School for the past 11 years, I have the inside story - straight from the horse's mouth, as they say. When I first came here, I thought I was going to be working at a school like any other school. My outlook, my attitude and my life changed after joining The Child School. I got the chance to work with the team of highly educated, professional and dedicated pedagogues and I became the part of the team. They provide a caring and nurturing environment for the group of special education students that is unparalleled. They are specialized in their fields and are truly invested in the success of their students. Students get the opportunities to blossom socially, emotionally and academically. The programs offered at the school cater to the academics and co-curricular needs of the students. Needless to say, our gym department provides rigorous and exciting programs for our students all year round. Our Elementary, Middle and High schools work independently under the supervision of a highly professional Executive Director. I am very proud to have been a part of this wonderful team here at The Child School/Legacy High School.
Dear Child School,
As I reflect upon my son's recent graduation fromTCS, the magnitude of the advancements and achievements that Brendan attained are, in a word, overwhelming. Whether I reflect upon Brendan's academic progress or his advancing social skills, I am left with the notion of how blessed we were to have benefitted from the nurturing and cutting edge academic and co curricular programs that were offered to Brendan. The school raised Brendan's self esteem and social skills to a level that we could never have anticipated. From a child who once developed an aphasia to a young man who was happy to deliver speeches, Brendan's progress through the guidance and supervision of an unparalleled qualified and devoted staff was incredible. Our entire family will be forever indebted to the school. Apart from what we hope will be lifelong friendships that Brendan has formed, I look forward to maintaining contact with so many staff members and parents whose friendship I will always treasure. The Child School has truly become the jewel that we hoped it could become.
Gary Rome, parent of alumni
Dear Child School/Legacy High School,
From the moment our family went to visit the Child School for the first time we knew it was something special. The school. or more exactly the staff & teachers, were just what we were looking for. For the first time in many years, and many schools, we felt we had met people who truly understood our child and the special challenges he faced. The school took the time to get to know not only our child but also the family so they would have the big picture. The staff and teachers worked with us tirelessly for many (often difficult) years to help our Son move ahead educationally, emotionally, socially, and personally. It was not always easy but never did anyone stop trying and working on that all important goal..providing a safe, happy, positive, and educational environment. At the end of this path we are proud and happy to note that our Son has successfully graduated High School with an Advandced Regents Diploma and was accepted at a number of excellent Universities where we expect he will do very well. We are certain we will stay closely connected to the Child School for many years to come and that the people we met and came to appreciate will be part of our lives going forward.
Michael Leinweber, parent of alumni