Riverview School, having celebrated its 50th year in 2007, is an independent, co-educational, boarding school of international reputation and service that enrolls approximately 200 students – ages 11 to 20 in its secondary school and ages 18 to 22 in its post-secondary component. Students at Riverview hail from approximately 29 states and 9 international countries. Riverview provides a caring, structured setting for students with complex language, learning and cognitive disabilities scoring within the 65 – 90 IQ range and is committed to developing student competence and confidence in academic, social and independent living skills. Riverview also recognizes its important responsibility with families by encouraging ongoing open lines of communication.
In the structured, supportive residential setting a competent, caring staff fosters independence and self-determination through the development of independent living skills, social skills and self esteem. The philosophy of the "whole child" guides the ongoing dialogue between academic and residential staff and ensures that student needs are addressed quickly and comprehensively. Likewise, the success oriented, non-competitive, individualized nature of the program helps to increase self-awareness, student confidence and willingness to take risks in their learning environment.
G.R.O.W. (Getting Ready for the Outside World) is Riverview’s 10 month post-secondary component for students who have completed our secondary school (or a similar program)*, and is designed to provide students with the skills that will assist them in functioning more independently within the adult world. (Students enter the program between the ages of 17 and 19.11. We do not typically enroll students in G.R.O.W. after age 20.) There are three defined phases of G.R.O.W. and each phase serves as a bridge to the next, building on proficiencies a student has already demonstrated. G.R.O.W. is designed to be a three-year program, serving young people up until age 21 or 22.
* A high school diploma or certificate of completion is required.
The G.R.O.W. curriculum includes direct instruction in academic and vocational skill development and independent living skills training.
Classes include Consumer Issues, Reading, English/Language Arts, Travel Training, Banking, Community Work Experience, Transition Seminar and Enrichment class. In English/Language Arts, students focus on real life topics such as effective listening and communication skills, use of technology, relationships, self-advocacy, personal safety, and self-awareness. This class also focuses on reinforcing important writing skills, culminating in a Vision Statement, written at the end of each school year. Consumer Issues instruction addresses practical skills such as time and task management, money skills, planning, estimation and problem solving, and budget exercises that mirror real-world monetary challenges. Reading classes continue to build on decoding and comprehension skills and expose students to various types of literature with real life application of reading skills. Students read novels and discuss important themes related to their lives.
The Travel Training curriculum is designed for teachers to evaluate the students’ ability to generalize what they are learning in class. For example, students go into the community and practice skills such as using public transportation, ordering and tipping in a restaurant, and identifying safe people to approach for assistance. Once teachers determine strengths and weaknesses encountered in applying these skills, students return to class where they review and reinforce concepts as needed.
Students also participate in a weekly Banking class where they learn and apply mechanics of managing a checking and savings account. Students maintain these accounts for personal expenses, weekend activities, etc. Students write checks, maintain a register, manage money, reconcile their accounts, and use an ATM. In addition, proper banking safety and etiquette are emphasized.
Students take part in a Transition Seminar where topics such as sexuality, health and wellness, “Looking in the Mirror” (personal awareness) and vocational skills training are taught. This seminar, coupled with the creation of a Personal Vision Statement in English/Language Arts, encourages the students to become active participants in planning their futures.
Students participate in a variety of afternoon classes. Some classes, such as math enrichment, reading enrichment, travel training and computer technology, reinforce academic skills. Other classes offer students the ability to “give back” to the community. During Community Work Experience, students can assist the elderly by shopping and doing light housework in their homes, stock food at a local food pantry, or help organize clothing at a store that serves the less fortunate in the community. Students can also choose from a number of courses that help them develop hobbies. These classes include: art, industrial arts, music, drama and cooking. Students rotate through the afternoon courses throughout the year which provides them with a variety of valuable experiences.
PERSONAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
As young men and women, students are often faced with issues such as previous school failure, lack of friendships and poor self-esteem. Therefore, each student has access to an advisor who serves as a liaison between home and school and provides student support in areas such as self-advocacy, self-awareness, problem solving and social skills.
Several times a week, the faculty, dormitory staff and advisors meet to discuss student specific issues which may assist in the students’ transition from classes to the residential program. Topics related to student daily success are shared and specific strategies are developed. This communication ensures that the “philosophy of the whole child” prevails.
Social skills guidance is given to all students by all staff. Rather than providing social skills instruction in isolation, all staff are trained to assist students in understanding social errors and preventing their reoccurrence on an ongoing basis during students’ daily lives.
Transition planning services are offered to all G.R.O.W. students and families. The Director of Vocational and Transition Services works collaboratively with each student and family to help identify the best outcomes for each student as he/she transitions into adult living within the community. Riverview also coordinates an on-campus post-secondary fair and a transition weekend which is available for families exploring longer term transition options.
Because living and learning are fully integrated on the G.R.O.W. campus, the residential program is designed as thoughtfully and thoroughly as the academic program. When students leave class, they enter another important dimension of their day. Much like the academic programming, each phase of residential living serves as a bridge to the next.
The residential program is designed to be a supportive and comfortable environment. The nine residences at G.R.O.W., located both on and off campus, are staffed by a Residential Supervisor, an overnight Dormitory Coordinator and a Dormitory Assistant and are located in the towns of Hyannis and Sandwich. All first year G.R.O.W. students are placed in an on-campus dormitory, where and when space allows. Second and third year students are placed at off-campus residences to assist and continue in building their social and independent living skills as well as to assist in transitioning to life after Riverview.
G.R.O.W. students enjoy the community by planning social activities which involve budgeting from their weekly allowance and arranging transportation. G.R.O.W. offers an in-house shuttle, referred to as “The Congo Line”, which accesses the local community where students utilize the skills necessary for public transportation.
Students are actively involved in food inventory, grocery shopping, meal preparation and clean-up on a weekly basis by preparing breakfast and dinners in the dormitories. Menus rotate every five weeks to teach students repetition and focus on individual cooking skills (boiling, chopping, measuring, etc.) This integration of skills into real-life provides students with opportunities to practice cooking skills.
Within the residential program, the goal is to develop responsible, independent, community-oriented students. Instruction is highly individualized and time is built into each student’s weekly schedule to include the following:
- Room/dorm care and laundry
- Budgeting and money management (“needs vs. wants”)
- Leisure time planning for evening/weekend activities
- Establishing and maintaining friendships
- Self-advocacy and social skill development
- Focus on health, nutrition and fitness. (Three nights per week – including weekends - students are offered choices of activities such as: intramural activities, karate, Zumba, yoga, GROW Intramurals Sports Program (GISP), and/or the use of our fitness center, The Wellness Center.)
- Meal planning and preparation (breakfast and dinner)
- One assigned cooking night each week with staff support
- Structured evening quiet time and homework hour
- Time management and organization (use of agendas, charts, chore lists)
- Executive function skills
- Ample opportunities for generalization of skills in the community
- Safe practices within the community
While the routine and structure ensure that these important skills are taught and practiced, students at G.R.O.W. play a very active role in designing and planning their individual schedules.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
The Health Care Center (HCC) is located on the main campus of Riverview School and is staffed seven days per week from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. by a team of nurses and medical assistants. An on-call nurse and medical assistant are scheduled seven nights per week 10 p.m. – 7 a.m.
Riverview utilizes the services of one pharmacy as the provider of all student medication. This pharmacy provides HCC with specially packaged medications which are necessary for the safe administration and inventory of all medication.
HCC provides services similar to those offered by school nurses in most school settings. Skilled nursing staff assess and treat minor ailments/injuries. The six-bed HCC provides students a place to rest, if they are ill. In the event of an emergency, Riverview is centrally located and accessible to several area hospitals as well as urgent care facilities.
HCC staff are actively involved in teaching students to better understand and advocate for their health and wellness needs. G.R.O.W. students are taught to manage their own medication. HCC also provides instruction regarding communicable disease prevention and emergency care. They collaborate with teachers, administrators, food service personnel, coaches and parents and have an excellent working relationship with many health care providers and local agencies.
With a focus on proper nutrition, students prepare and eat a healthy breakfast and dinner in the dormitory while lunch is served in the G.R.O.W. Cafe. Access to healthy foods such as a salad bar, fresh fruit, main entrée, soup and sandwich choices, etc. provide ample, yet healthy access for all.
It is Riverview’s belief that all students need exposure to a variety of vocations in order to increase their career awareness and enable them to make appropriate employment choices in the future. Individuals with disabilities often lack the necessary experience in the world of work and, as a result, are unable to identify appropriate vocational goals. Therefore, it is essential that Riverview students be provided with ample vocational opportunities.
Through their participation in the various phases of G.R.O.W., students gain first hand experience in a variety of work settings and learn the tasks required and skills associated with a number of jobs. All phases of career awareness emphasize the development of good work habits which are critical to the individual’s success in the working world. Exposure to a variety of vocations also serves to increase the students’ awareness of their personal strengths, skills and interests.
In Phase 1, students have the opportunity to apply for on-campus jobs such as servers, wait staff, cashiers and food prep assistants for the Breakfast Café, Hunter Commons (GROW café) and the Stark School Store. Other positions include Maintenance and Development jobs which require previous work experience. Just recently, Riverview opened Café Riverview, open to the public, serving breakfast and lunch. Students gain experience in preparing and serving fresh, healthy food in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Students complete an application and obtain two references from academic or residential faculty.
In addition to the on-campus jobs, students in Phase 2 who attend Project Forward participate in a community work internship developed by the Workforce Coordinator at Project Forward (see “College Life” below). These jobs match the student’s area of concentration at the college and usually run between six and eight weeks. Phase 3 students continue to build employability skills and participate in community work internships throughout the school year. Students are evaluated during the year in their individual work sites and receive valuable feedback to help them prepare for the world of work.
In order to maximize the opportunity to teach independent work skills, G.R.O.W. offers skills training classes which enhance the vocational program. Skills training classes are offered twice a week and have a classroom component and a field experience component. Classes are offered in four areas: Office Tech/Entrepreneurship; Maintenance/Horticulture; Basic Food Service/Café Operations; and Basic Office Skills. These classes are held in the afternoons during non-Project Forward time and continue to support the mission of building vocational skills for independent living.
G.R.O.W. students have the opportunity to enroll in a Certificate program called Project Forward; a nationally recognized school-to-work model offered at Cape Cod Community College. The first exploratory sequence consists of six experiential vocational courses of instruction (four-five weeks each) in the areas of Basic Foods, Maintenance, Basic Retail, Office Technology, Animal Care and Child Care. The Essentials Work Skills class was created for those students who require additional support to meet the academic, social and vocational demands of the challenging classes offered in the Project Forward Program. Instruction is presented at a pace that enables students to acquire the necessary skills, pertinent information and self-confidence to transition into the Exploratory Program during their second year at Project Forward. Topics include, but are not limited to, achieving self-awareness; developing and maintaining independence; managing time; developing, demonstrating and maintaining appropriate work habits; and exploring Project Forward Vocational Careers. The Essentials Work Skills class also includes a community apprenticeship one afternoon a week.
Second/third year students may elect to study one of several occupational areas: Basic Food Preparation, Maintenance/Landscaping and Horticulture, Basic Retail II, Animal Care l, Child Care Assistant, Mass Communications, Office Technology and Hospitality and Café Operations/Customer Service. Additionally, second/third year students participate in internships connecting work-based learning at a community business, such as a hotel/resort, retail environment or animal care facility. Fourth year students may enroll for one or two semesters in Worker Support, where student learns to write resumes and apply for and retain jobs.
Attending Project Forward is optional and requires a separate application process. Students may be admitted to the Project Forward Program if they meet the Program’s admissions criteria. Should the family decide not to avail themselves of Project Forward, G.R.O.W. provides individualized classes focusing on skills training, continued academic, prevocational and social skills development.
Phase 2, 3 and second semester Phase 1 students who meet the qualifications may take a mainstream course at the college. Students are required to take a placement test which is administered at the College Assessment Center to determine eligibility and class placement. This is not affiliated with Project Forward.
G.R.O.W. Summer is a five-week co-educational summer experience for currently enrolled G.R.O.W. students and new students who will enter the school year program in September.
G.R.O.W. Summer is staffed by experienced teachers and dormitory staff from the school year program and serves as an opportunity for students entering the program for the first time in September to become acquainted with the campus, the faculty, and their peers. This helps to ensure a smooth and successful transition to G.R.O.W. in the fall. The “philosophy of the whole child” guides the ongoing dialogue between faculty and residential staff to ensure that student needs are addressed quickly and comprehensively.
All students have the opportunity to participate in vocational skills training in the G.R.O.W. summer component. In the afternoons, students rotate through five career exploratory fields. Each work site exposes students to a variety of skills; students rate their interest in each area at the end of the summer. Their final evaluation is a Work Exploratory Assessment which evaluates student performance in five employability areas. Students entering their last year of G.R.O.W. participate in work experiences during the morning session. They begin their day by working in the breakfast café learning customer and food service skills and then leave campus to work at supervised community work sites.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Physical activity is also an important component of the summer program. Students enhance their level of fitness by receiving instruction in a state-of-the-art fitness facility called The Wellness Center.
A TYPICAL G.R.O.W. SUMMER DAY
Monday through Friday
7:00 – 8:15 Wake up, prepare breakfast, complete morning routine.
8:15 Depart residence for Academic Center.
8:30-11:30 M, T, Th, F: Classroom instruction (English Language
Arts, Reading, Consumer Issues)
W: Community outing (9:00 – 3: 00)
11:30 – 12:00 Lunch
12:00 – 2:00 Elective/vocational opportunities:
· Culinary arts
· Office skills
· Home safety, repair and maintenance
· History of Cape Cod (museums, local historical attractions)
· Art appreciation (hands-on activities with local artists, museums and exhibits)
· Oceanography (seal cruises, whale watches, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute)
· Nature appreciation (nature walks)
· Retail (school store and thrift shop)
· Food pantry
2:00 – 5:00 Home living skills/afternoon activity/dinner preparation
5:00 – 6:30 Dinner/cleanup
6:30 – 8:30 Recreational and cultural outings, which may include:
· Concerts on the Green
· Cape Cod Baseball League
· Cape Cod Melody Tent concerts
· Sandwich Boardwalk
· Canal and beach walks
· Barnstable County fair
· Wellness Center (Riverview’s fitness center)
· Barnes & Noble bookstores
· Personal shopping
8:30 – 10:00 Social time/nightly routines/laundry
10:00 Quiet time
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Riverview was established on beautiful Cape Cod in 1957 and has an international reputation for excellence in special education. The scenic 16-acre campus features outstanding classroom facilities and condominium-like dormitories and apartments. The campus is an easy walk to Sandy Neck Beach and is located on historic Route 6A just one hour from Boston, MA or Providence, RI. Beaches, lighthouses and quaint villages are among the many treasures found on Cape Cod.
Taught by licensed faculty, Riverview is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and is approved and licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC).