"Instead of a national curriculum for education, what is really needed is an individual curriculum for every child."
FIND YOUR FAITH
Our Dyslexic Program
A unique feature of our dyslexic instruction is that The Liberty School uses the Orton-Gillingham (OG) Approach. OG is a multi-sensory, systematic, and direct approach to language instruction and is renowned for improving reading success. The OG approach draws from a body of time-tested knowledge and practice that has been validated over the past 90 years. For more information about dyslexia and the Orton-Gillingham Approach please visit the Orton-Gillingham Academy.
Liberty was built from the ground up to meet the needs of our students academically, socially, and emotionally. With the goal of helping each student to achieve their potential and succeed when they leave Liberty, our program has a number of important hallmarks:
Daily, one-on-one, Orton-Gillingham language instruction taught by highly experienced, caring, and passionate instructors
Small class size (under ten students)
Multisensory (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic) and explicit instruction across the curriculum
Highly individualized schedules that place students in classes where they will be appropriately challenged, regardless of their age or grade level
Daily oral reading fluency practice
Daily Active Reinforcement Period to practice skills for long-term memory retention
Dynamic specials and electives that keep school engaging and highlight our students’ interests and strengths
Across the curriculum at Liberty, we strive to move each student as fast as we can, but as slow as we must; the mastery and retention of skills and concepts is what dictates the speed of student progress. With intensive, explicit daily instruction tailored to the individual, we aim to remediate the challenges of dyslexia as rapidly as possible.
Once students become ready to transition back to public school, heavy emphasis is placed on becoming proficient with assistive technology that will help students to be successful on their own. Students also practice self-advocacy skills that will be an important element on their next educational journey. When the time comes, our students will leave Liberty with a strong belief in themselves, an understanding of their strengths and how to accommodate for their challenges, an ability to self-advocate, and skills with assistive technology to help them achieve success.
Our Gifted and Talented Program
The overarching goal of The Liberty School Gifted Program is to infuse our twice-exceptional (2e) students (students who are both dyslexic and gifted) with a passion for learning, to assist them in discovering their intrinsic interests, and to inspire them to be future change-makers. Liberty uses aspects of several gifted program models such as, gifted instructional strategies, challenging curriculum, and individualized instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. First, gifted students are grouped by ability in language and math, regardless of their ages. This allows for acceleration through the curriculum and enables teachers to provide individual and group challenge and enrichment activities geared towards the gifted learner and his or her individual interests. The Liberty School Gifted Program follows the Autonomous Learner Model for the Gifted and Talented, a model developed by George T. Betts & Jolene K. Kercher. This model is designed to optimize ability and to specifically meet diversified intellectual, emotional, social, and physical needs of learners, with the development of passion-learning as the ultimate goal. In this model, students first learn how to meet their own needs, then turn their focus toward meeting the needs of society. In mixed-ability classes such as science and social studies, curriculum compacting allows students who already know the material to quickly move past the core curriculum or to take an alternative route through it to enhance their existing knowledge. Independent projects extending the curriculum and Socratic questioning strategies also allow gifted students to think and work with increased depth and complexity.
The Liberty School Gifted Program is designed to ignite or reinvigorate a passion for learning. Because 2e students often think, learn, and create in similar ways, they are able to be educated together in many subjects, as long as language difficulties are accommodated. Therefore, it is our goal to give all our students access to gifted curriculum, customized to their individual needs, when and where it is possible and appropriate.
How long do Liberty students typically stay?
This depends largely on the individual. Severely impacted students may require staying through 8th grade, while others may be ready to transition back into public school after just a year or two. Typically, most of our students stay for three or four years. Our goal is to prepare all our students to successfully transition as fast as possible.
How do you determine when students are prepared to return to public school?
Our goal is to push students above grade level by at least one year, and ideally two. When students return to public school, there will typically be a decline in the trajectory of their reading skills without the daily, explicit instruction they were receiving at Liberty. If they are able to leave with above-grade-level skills, they have a good chance of keeping pace with their peers. We also strive to ensure transitioning students are capable with assistive technology and that they know how to self-advocate.
How do you measure student progress?
Formal testing, using a battery of nationally normed assessments, occurs two times per year (in the fall and spring). For language, we measure growth in the areas of word recognition, decoding, spelling, reading fluency, and comprehension. Math assessments measure skills with concepts, computation, and applications. A number of smaller, shorter, formative assessments throughout the year help teachers to understand how students are progressing and where to focus instruction.
Where do Liberty students go to high school?
The appropriate high school will vary significantly depending on the student, of course, but the public Durango High School offers a more traditional program that may be a good match for Liberty students who need a more structured, explicit approach. Many Liberty students have elected to attend Animas High School. Animas is a project-based charter school with an emphasis on presentations to demonstrate what students have learned. Their program tends to match our students’ learning style, though if a student struggles with executive function or managing long-term projects, success at Animas may be difficult. Big Picture High School, also a local charter school, has a program that allows students to pursue and develop their personal interests through local internships. This is a fairly personalized program which tends to appeal to students who don’t excel in a traditional environment. There are also two local online high schools, Southwest Colorado eSchool and Goal High School, that are ideal for students who may struggle with the social elements of high school.
How is parent communication handled?
Prior to school start, we host a parent orientation evening where school routines and policies are explained, and general questions answered. Liberty distributes a weekly newsletter that includes photos from the week’s activities, important information, and upcoming dates/events. In the fall, we host a curriculum night where parents hear from each of their child’s teachers about the skills and concepts that are covered, how the material is delivered, and have any questions answered. Forty-minute parent-teacher conferences occur twice a year, and new Liberty families will conference three times a year. Thorough narrative student reports from teachers and tutors are shared twice a year. Teachers may share important class information or student successes either through email or the Class Dojo app.