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Posted: Dec 13, 2006 12:47


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Armenia, New York
Jennifer Scully, Dean of Admissions

Visit by: Larry Stednitz, Nov. 13, 2006

Maplebrook is a 62-year-old school addressing language based learning differences for students aged 11 through 18. The program also has a transitional service for students aged 18 through 21. The older students live in separate dorms away from the main campus. These students have more freedoms and receive vocational exploration of vocational experiences like construction trades, giving them real life exposure.

The typical student is aged 11 through 18 and has language-based learning differences with a minimum IQ of 70. The school does not accept students with primary emotional and behavioral diagnoses. Maplebrook describes its students as very mild behaviorally, sweet, gentle, and having a need for positive attention. My visit certainly supports that claim. Two students toured me and three other consultants. They were polite, poised, and obviously happy to be showing off their campus. We also had lunch with these boys and girls who were, in my opinion, as well behaved as students I see in regular public school classrooms. It was easy to see why the staff we met were equally excited about working with their students and enjoyed close, engaging relationships with them. The room was full of laughter, with the kids chatting and engaged with the other students with whom they were eating.

One of the goals of Maplebrook is to provide all of the activities and experiences a regular middle or high school student has. From our visit, we saw that they have been successful. The school has students from ten different countries and makes efforts to enroll a culturally diverse student body. The school has 50 percent females and 50 percent males by design. The total student population is 116; some students are18 and over and are located in another location of the campus. They also have a few day students from the local communities.

Many of Maplebrook's staff lives on campus, adding a home-like environment. Included in this home-like environment, Maplebrook has no fewer than 14 dogs! The campus is beautifully designed and is spread over 90 acres. The buildings were all in good condition, with some over 200 years old!

To "normalize" the student's experience, they have a well developed theatre arts program including musical performances and plays. The school produces theatre performances annually and all students can successfully participate, whether as an actor, singer or stage crew member. Each role gives the student an important job and helps create a sense of pride and belonging. Students are required to participate in three sports throughout the year and in life skills training programs, which cover topics like making change, telling time, check writing, balancing checkbooks, and tipping protocol. They also learn Home economics and participate in discussions of such issues as peer pressures, bullying, and inter-personal relationships. All students participate in two-hour homework schedules as well.

Although students are well monitored to avoid inappropriate behaviors, it is permissible for the students to have romantic relationships at the school. It is also permissible for example, for students to kiss each other goodnight.

The classrooms are well equipped and the library has over 7,000 volumes. Along with basic academic skills, students are taught use of computers, including learning such programs as word processing, excel spreadsheets and other applications. The school also has a gymnasium, theatre, swimming pool, athletic fields, music department and an art department. It is easy to see that, like their classmates at home, the required athletic participation and creative activities, the students develop rich memories of their experiences at Maplebrook. These are experiences they were unlikely to experience in their home school. The teachers are trained in a multi-sensory approach and provide small nurturing classrooms. The following are programs used by Maplebrook: Accelerated Reading, Wilson Reading Systems, STAR Reading, speech and language services, social skills training, tutoring and teacher-run study halls.

Each student is assigned a staff mentor, with each mentor having only three students. Students meet at least weekly with their mentors and frequently more often. The mentors also communicate with the families every two weeks, with an administrative staff calling the parents every three weeks to assure that communication does not break down. The students are supported in their growth through identified character education principles and earn points for appropriate behaviors. When at the highest levels, students become members of the Character Honor Society, giving them extra privileges and recognition.

Maplebrook provides a well rounded school that provides rich and rewarding experiences that their students would unlikely achieve at home or in the public school system.

Maplebrook is a New York State registered high school. It is accredited by the NY State Association of Independent Schools and the Middle States Association of Independent Colleges and Schools.

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