Principal, Schermerhorn Program
As principal of the Schermerhorn Program, it is my goal here to provide you with a detailed picture of the Program itself. There are one teacher and one teacher assistant assigned to each classroom. In addition to the classroom structure, there are also supplementary services.
There are 2 full-time physical therapists, 3 full-time occupational therapists, in addition to 1 part-time physical therapist and 1 part-time occupational therapist, 3 speech therapists, 6 orientation and mobility specialists, counselors (3 social workers and 2 school psychologists), 4 adapted physical education teachers and for the residential students 3 therapeutic recreation staff members. The program has twenty-five classes and is divided into three schools- elementary, middle, and high school and a vocational training department.
The program operates from Monday morning at 8: 15 am when buses begin to arrive through 3:00 pm Friday afternoon or not until the last student leaves. The school day consists of eight periods per day each forty-five minutes in length. Homeroom begins at 8:15 am while the first-period class begins at 8:23. There are two lunch periods for the students. The elementary and some of middle school students have fifth-period lunch while the remainder of the middle and high school students will have sixth-period lunch. The end of the school day is at 2:47 pm.
However, that is not the end of the day for some middle and high school students. We provide academic assistance after school in the form of tutoring. The tutoring program begins at 2:45 and ends at 4:15. Students return home via Access A Ride or are transported home by their parents.
The residential students report to their assigned dorms where they either have a rest period, do their homework or room chores. Recreational programming for residential students begins at 2:50 each day and runs up until 9:00 pm.
We follow the NY State academic curriculum and learning standards and are held to the same diploma and testing requirements as our sighted peers. Our students must take and pass five Regents exams in order to achieve a high school diploma. In addition to following the NY State academic curriculum, the students are instructed in the Expanded Core Curriculum. This is a curriculum specifically designed for students who are blind or visually impaired. The areas include compensatory or functional academic skills, orientation and mobility, social interaction skills, recreation and leisure skills, career education, technology, and visual efficiency skills.
Our students’ primary disability is a visual impairment with no secondary disability on their Individual Education Plan (IEP). Their visual impairments are due to some of the most common causes of vision problems such as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), glaucoma, congenital cataracts, and retinoblastoma.
We actively participate in research conducted by experts in our field. Throughout the years we have
developed a close working relationship with many of the leading organizations in the blindness field and look forward to maintaining and enhancing our reputation as a leader in the education of students who are blind and visually impaired.
On March 15th, 1832, the New York Institution for the Blind opened its doors to educate the first class of blind students in the United States, and I am honored to be among the principals who have dedicated themselves to NYISE's staff, students, and mission.
As we look ahead to our 190th Anniversary, it is my hope that the staff and I can work together to make our school strong and continue its rich legacy in the education of students with special needs.
In the words of Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much!”
Principal, Schermerhorn Program
New York Institute for Special Education