“Every student. Every day. Whatever it takes.”
“Every student. Every day. Whatever it takes.” That’s the motto of the Kevin O’Grady School, which serves students ages 3 – 22 with moderate to severe special needs.
Staff work to ensure the success of all students in the face of significant challenges. At the heart of the program is a committed multi-disciplinary staff of professionals focused on creating positive learning opportunities for all students and their families or caregivers.
Students enjoy leisure and fitness opportunities, which are not readily available to them in the community — indoor and outdoor exercise, art, music. Community celebrations bring together staff, students and families, including holiday craft sales and karaoke in the fall and winter, and Art on the Hill and the Walk & Roll pledge walk in the spring.
Classrooms are equipped with the latest in technology, including iPads, computers, special learning apps, communication devices and adaptive technology to meet all student’s needs.
Who We Serve
Students ages 3 to 22 with moderate or severe special needs, including complex medical needs, physical disabilities, multiple disabilities, visual or hearing impairment, autism, and intellectual disabilities. We have the capacity to meet the needs of students who are medically fragile and those with severe behaviors.
The staff of the Kevin O’Grady School believes that team collaboration is essential to maximize each student’s level of independence, development of functional life skills and academic achievement. Various services and therapies are integrated within the classroom setting, offering a more intensive model of support and intervention.
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy, including life and vocational skills
- Speech and Language Therapy
- Vision, orientation, and mobility services
- Social work and parent-support services
- Home-based services when indicated
- Individualized Behavioral Support (BCBA services as indicated)
- Assistive Technology
FOUNDATIONS INTEGRATED PRESCHOOL: For Ages 3 – 6
The Foundations Preschool classroom provides intensive services for children ages 3 to 6 with special needs. The program follows the Massachusetts Department of Education Guidelines for Preschool Learning Experiences. Within an integrated classroom with peer models, students acquire the communication, social/emotional, and self-help skills they need to successfully transition back to schools within their community or other specialized programs. All services are provided within the classroom to assure comprehensive integration and carryover of learning
objectives. In addition to their bright, cheerful classroom, children enjoy playing on the school’s beautiful, accessible playground for young students. A glider, swings, climbing structure and sensory stations provides outside fun for children of all abilities.
ACCESS: For Ages 6 – 22
For students with multiple impairments, complex medical needs
The Access Program provides intensive services for students 6 – 22 with multiple impairments, including students with complex medical needs. Students actively engage in daily routines, activities and experiences that provide optimal levels of stimulation required to explore their environment and increase quality of life. For some students, complex medical issues require frequent care from qualified personnel. Nursing services and therapies are integrated into the classroom with the emphasis on teaming with classroom staff to meet each the objectives of each student’s Individualized Education Plan.
REACH: For Ages 6 – 13
For students with autism, developmental or intellectual impairments
Reach provides intensive services for children ages 6 – 13 on the autism spectrum or who have developmental or intellectual impairments. Students acquire the academic, communication, social/emotional and self-help skills they need to reach their full potential. Teachers use research based teaching methodologies. The emphasis is on learning through systematic instruction, including structured teaching and applied behavior analysis. Adaptations, including sensory diets, augmentative communication systems, adaptive equipment and environmental supports, enable students to engage actively in learning. Behavioral interventions are developed as a team and coordinated by Board Certified Behavior Analysts.
TARGET: For Adolescents and Young Adults Ages 14 – 22
For students on the autism spectrum or with intellectual impairments
Target provides intensive services for adolescents and young adults who are on the autism spectrum or have intellectual impairments. Students focus on the academic, communication, social/emotional, self-help, pre-vocational, vocational and life skills needed for them to become active members of the community. Students begin by practicing skills within our structured, in-house vocational centers including: Training Center, Recycle, Supply & Delivery, Clerical, and Prime Products. Job skills include: recycling paper, cans and bottles, stocking shelves, making items to sell and preparing mailings. They also work on developing independence and responsibility by participating in community outings and vocational internships. Students undergo a comprehensive vocational assessment to identify their skills, strengths and vocational interests. Families are provided with support to complete the guardianship process and transition planning becomes an important focus of the IEP. Behavioral interventions are developed as a team and coordinated by Board Certified Behavior Analysts.
COMPASS: For Ages 7 – 22
For students with autism and behavioral challenges
Compass provides intensive services for students ages 7-22 with autism and behavioral challenges. Students acquire communication, social/emotional, self-help, pre-vocational and life skills needed to improve their quality of life. The emphasis is on acquiring critical functional skills including: communicating basic wants and needs, coping strategies and emotional regulation. Programming includes systematic instruction that use research-based teaching methodologies, including structured teaching, applied behavior analysis and providing safe outlets for stress and de-escalation. Compass promotes independence in a therapeutic environment with the fewest restrictions necessary, while insuring individual safety and development. The ultimate goal of all services is to increase each student’s ability both to function effectively in both their immediate environment and transition to other classroom settings and/or programs within the community. Behavioral interventions are developed as a team and coordinated by Board Certified Behavior Analysts.
Fun fitness, exercise and leisure activities
The Kevin O’Grady School has two large outdoor spaces for student play and recreation, including an accessible playground for younger students and a 16,000 square foot recreational area. The rec space 16,000 includes a large playing field, a half basketball court and a walking, riding, running track that meets the requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act for wheelchair use. In addition, the school has two specialized fitness rooms filled with adaptive cardiovascular exercise machines, including treadmills, exercise bicycles and seated ellipticals. A variety of machines accommodate wheelchairs.
All classes create seasonal and thematic artwork year round. The end of the school year culminates with a huge show of classroom art called “Art on the Hill” each May. Students work together on a class project following the theme chosen for that year’s show. Special recognition and awards are given to each classroom.
The Kevin O’Grady School has a special music room filled with musical instruments and electronic equipment, including keyboards, shakers, drums, iPads, video monitors, a karaoke system and other items for students to enjoy making and listening to music. Some classrooms also take part in regular music therapy.
Many students participate in planting and taking care of plants on the school’s grounds. Plans are underway to create some new sensory gardens where students can plants flowers, vegetables and herbs. Planters will be of various heights so that students in wheelchairs can easily reach to dig in the earth, water and care for plants. Some of the older classrooms who do woodworking and construction will build the planters and benches for the new gardens.
There are many special events throughout the year to bring students, staff and families together, including Art on the Hill, the annual Walk & Roll fundraiser, graduations, craft sales, holiday program, school barbecue, plant sales and Scholastic Book fair, to name just a few. The Parent Teacher Organization offers assistance for many of these community events.
Vocational education and life skills
At age 14, Kevin O’Grady students can be referred to our in-house vocational program by their multidisciplinary team. Upon initial referral, they undergo an internal vocational assessment that includes an informal curriculum-based assessment (completed by his or her classroom team), and direct assessment of vocational skills and vocational behaviors by our vocational coordinator and/or other designated members of the classroom team.
After the initial vocational assessment is completed, recommendations are made for the student to work in specific, in-house vocational areas and continue to learn new skills in a variety of training centers that are directly related to future community internships.
In-House Vocational Areas:
- Vocational Training Center
- Supply & Delivery
- Prime Products
- School Store
- Snack Shop
As students continue to acquire and expand their skills within the our internal vocational areas, the student’s education team and vocational coordinator begin to analyze the students strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes (pertaining to jobs) and collaborate with the family to look for vocational internships that will best match their skills.
Current Community Internships:
- Open Door Food Pantry (Thrift Shop, Food Bank)
- St. John’s Thrift Shop
- Appleton Farms
- Long Hill
- Salem Hospital (Cafeteria, Medical Records)
Our curriculum and philosophy supports and prioritizes skills that are identified for young people to succeed in a world of work by the U.S. Department of Labor’s commission. These skills, attributes, and competencies are required to attain and retain a job and include, but are not limited to the following:
- Appropriate Behavior
- Work Habits
At Kevin O’Grady we ensure that whatever type of work our students do it will be productive and valued within our school community and be transferable to the outside community.
At Kevin O’Grady School, Transition Planning and assessment is a team effort that begins just prior to students turning 14 years of age and throughout adolescence and adulthood, until the age of 22 years. Classroom teachers and consulting therapists work closely with parents and begin expanding educational programming, by prioritizing ways to prepare students for life beyond school and keeping the students individual interests and preferences at the forefront of our programming. Our social worker also plays a critical role in supporting parents throughout the transition years, by providing parents with resources, assistance through the Guardianship process and inter-agency collaboration.