Green Chimneys Special Education School Expands Program to Meet Growing Need

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32 new seats to serve middle school students with emotional and learning challenges at Clearpool campus in Carmel, NY

To meet the growing special education needs of school districts and families across the region, and address its current waiting list, Green Chimneys has added 32 day school seats for 5th – 8th grade special education students at its Clearpool campus in Carmel, NY. Clearpool will also serve an additional 24 extended school year students in its Special Needs Summer Learning Program for ages 10-18.

This significant expansion was approved by the New York State Department of Education, following a needs assessment of 61 school districts conducted by Green Chimneys this past December. The study revealed that 69 children were in need of special education programming, 48 of whom in middle school.

“Green Chimneys is proud to have this opportunity to increase capacity and leverage our Clearpool campus to serve special needs students at such a critical stage in their emotional and academic development,” announced Green Chimneys Executive Director Joe Whalen. “Our commitment to educating children in a safe and supportive environment, where they can learn at an appropriate pace and experience personal success, is at the core of what we do. Clearpool offers an outstanding therapeutic setting and growth-oriented activities to engage and challenge struggling middle school students in the best way possible.”

Green Chimneys Therapeutic Day School at Clearpool is designed for special needs students in 5th-8th grades who have been unsuccessful in a traditional educational setting and require a small, structured and therapeutically supportive environment. The year-round academic program meets New York State standards in a manner that is tailored to the background of these students. Small class sizes, high staff-to-student ratio (8:1) and well-trained, certified special education professionals contribute to an approach that recognizes individual learning styles and provides necessary therapeutic support - individual and group counseling, speech and language, and occupational therapy - to meet the needs of each child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

The new Day School program leverages Clearpool’s spectacular natural setting on 350 acres, offering countless ecological resources and extensive wildlife for exploration and discovery. An enriched educational environment incorporates a vast array of challenging and therapeutic programming such as life skills, outdoor education, experiential learning, and Green Chimneys’ renowned nature-based programs that encompass animal-assisted and horticultural activities, humane education, and sustainable agriculture education. Through the use of ropes courses, orienteering, and other outdoor-based programs, students have opportunities to experience many new challenges, which ultimately leads to improved self-esteem and effort in the classroom.

“Middle school is a challenging time of life for any student, but is especially difficult for those with special needs,” said Green Chimneys School Psychologist Melissa Montera. “Previous academic failure, social challenges, family dynamics and hormonal changes can be overwhelming. Middle school children are far more likely than elementary school kids to have psychiatric hospitalizations, experience social stigmas such as bullying, and have more serious conduct and behavioral problems like aggressiveness and self-harm. For these middle school students, a key component of the Therapeutic Day School at Clearpool is the outdoor education and adventure program, which builds confidence through mastery of activities that challenge students both mentally and physically, and creates experiences in which they can feel successful.”

The Day School and Extended School Year programs at Clearpool are the newest education programs of Green Chimneys, one of the most effective therapeutic special education schools in the country. The school’s Brewster and Carmel sites are unified by a core curriculum, central administration and an unparalleled level of expert professional support – from social workers, teachers, psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists to experienced recreation, art and horticultural therapists – to guide children in constructive choices and exploring their talents. This fully integrated “treatment team” provides a comprehensive approach, intervening upon admission when a child is at his or her most fragile, and helping the child stabilize, reach his or her academic, behavioral and social potential, and return to the home school district with the best chance of success.

Green Chimneys merged with Clearpool in 2008, adding a dynamic new dimension to the Green Chimneys mission. In addition to its therapeutic day school and extended school year program, Clearpool provides an array of public education and recreation programs to school students, local families and community conservationists. Nearly 10,000 students a year from Putnam, Dutchess and Westchester Counties, and New York City participate in environmental science and experiential learning programs to enhance classroom curriculums. Exciting summer day camp programs provide over 400 local children aged 4-1/2 – 15 with outdoor adventures, nature activities and traditional summer camp fun. Ongoing events offer families and community members a host of hands-on exploration and skill-building activities focused on environmental awareness and sustainability. In October 2011, Clearpool became the fourth Model Forest site established in the New York City Water Supply Watershed region, setting aside 264 acres of privately-owned forestland to support environmental education and forest stewardship within Putnam County.

About Green Chimneys
Green Chimneys is a not-for-profit organization helping young people to maximize their full potential by providing residential, educational, clinical and recreational services that create and nurture connections to the community and the natural world. Founded in 1947 and headquartered on a farm and wildlife center in Brewster, NY, Green Chimneys is recognized as a worldwide leader in animal-assisted therapy and educational activities for children with special needs. Green Chimneys services include an accredited special education school, residential treatment center, animal-assisted and nature-based therapeutic programs, public education and recreation programs, and community based support for underserved youth and families.

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Danielle Cyr
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