Tuesday, March 20th, 2007
Sanford Shapiro looks at Trident Academy
Ã‚Â© 2007 Sanford Shapiro
Trident Academy is located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina and is just outside of Charleston. Not too bad a spot, right near the bay. Trident is a day school for kids with learning disabilities in grades K-12.
Trident was started in 1972 and enrolls up to 160 students. During my visit, there were approximately 140 students. The primary types of learning disabilities their students have fall under the umbrella term of Language-Based Learning Disabilities, and so will include Dyslexia and Central Auditory Processing Disorder. These are students who may also have some executive function difficulties; in other words may be otherwise bright but encounter problems with planning, prioritizing, task analysis and problem-solving particularly with regards to reading and writing tasks.
Similar to other schools that enroll younger kids, the students who enroll in the kindergarten and first grade may not have a static or defined diagnosis of a specific learning disability. Consequently many of these young kids are diagnosed with sensory motor integration problems.
Orton Gillingham is the foundation of the remedial aspect of this school. It is apparently one of only ten schools accredited by the O-G Institute. At the time of this writing there are three Orton Gillingham Fellows, advanced practitioners and trainers. Whenever I hear that term, an O-G Fellow, I get that “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” song stuck in my head. I know the Orton folks are much more serious than that, and the school takes pride in having these advanced trainers. In any event, in addition to the Fellows, all new teachers are required to take a three-five week summer training in this approach.
All Lower and Middle Elementary grade students have one period per day of what’s called LEAD, or Language Enrichment and Development. This addresses the deficits in reading and written expression and is for forty-five minutes. Other classes have an average of seven students per (with teacher and aide), but the LEAD classes are usually 2:1. In evidence of some level of individualization, one kid I encountered was getting two periods of this remedial class per day. He was an eighth grader who was reading more than a few grades below grade level.
There were about fifty kids who were enrolled in the high school and most continue to take a LEAD class but some opt for a SAT prep class instead. They have three levels of Spanish offered (reportedly only one year of foreign language is required for South Carolina). Kids can also take Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Marine Biology for their lab sciences. They have a full time music teacher and there’s art instruction for all. I’m not certain how often or specialized those strands can be.
Overall the school had a well-organized and personable feel to it, and the same can be said of the campus itself.
Related at this site: Trident Academy