The uniqueness of The Willie Ross School and the implementation of its mission are most evident in the dual-campus model, which provides our students with a variety of academic experiences with their deaf peers at the Longmeadow Campus and deaf and hearing peers in the Partnership Campus within the East Longmeadow Public Schools.
The Willie Ross School has always been committed to an integrated approach to instruction and developed the dual-campus system in response to studies that showed students with a hearing loss have diverse needs that may require equally diverse instructional settings. Some students learn best at our Longmeadow Campus where they are immersed in a specialized academic environment, while others learn best at the Partnership Campus where they are included in classes with their hearing peers.
The simultaneous offering of immersion and inclusion approaches, while recognizing the value of center-based campus instruction and the need for inclusion services, constitutes an innovative and contemporary approach.
Our Longmeadow Campus provides a center-based immersion environment in which deaf and hard-of-hearing students can learn together in an accessible setting. The campus offers a developmentally appropriate curriculum for students ages 3-22 that is aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework and adapted for deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
Successful capital campaigns have allowed us to expand our campus in recent years. The West Campus offers an outdoor classroom, a walking/fitness track, a basketball court and playing fields. Interior renovations have created a new multipurpose room to enhance services to students with cochlear implants and expand transition services for students graduating from the high school program. WRSD also has an updated and expanded teaching kitchen, used to supplement classroom education and to teach important living skills to younger students and pre-vocational skills to older students. The school's updated library has a computer area and the nonprofit organization Link to Libraries has been instrumental in supplying books.
At the elementary and middle school levels students are offered a variety of academic opportunities based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework.
The program focuses on students' development of language skills, appropriate social behavior, independent work habits, daily life skills and their individual academic potential.
Field trips, community visits and structured opportunities for interaction outside the classroom are central features of the elementary and middle school programs.
The School-to-Career Services program begins at the middle school level to introduce students to the professional world through classroom preparation, campus-based internships and community-based employment experiences.
The Partnership Campus within the East Longmeadow Public Schools provides our deaf and hard-of-hearing students with the unique opportunity to attend school with hearing peers while receiving a Willie Ross School education in one of our specialized classrooms. This partnership approach combines the social and educational benefits of mainstream education with the individualized instruction and communication services provided at a school for the deaf.
All Willie Ross Partnership Campus classrooms within the East Longmeadow Public Schools are staffed by Willie Ross School's licensed teachers of the deaf and support staff including on-site audiologists, physical education instructors and counselors. The full range of academic curricula is drawn from the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework and is adapted for deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Willie Ross students also have the opportunity to mainstream into classes taught by the host school's educators. While the decision to mainstream is determined by a student's team, Willie Ross students interact with public school students during lunch, recess and assembly programs on a regular basis.
The options provided by the Partnership Campus program are flexible so that students with a range of hearing loss can have their communication and academic needs met on an individual basis. The Willie Ross Partnership Campus offers students the best of both schools in a supportive, yet challenging, environment.
The Partnership Campus’ elementary school is located in two classrooms of the Mountain View Elementary School in East Longmeadow. Willie Ross students interact with their hearing peers every day during lunch and recess and during scheduled assembly programs. Some limited academic mainstreaming is also available on a case-by-case basis.
The Partnership Campus' middle school is located in two classrooms of the Birchland Park Middle School in East Longmeadow. Opportunities for mainstreaming are more numerous at the middle school level than in the elementary school. Willie Ross staff provide required support for students who participate in mainstream classrooms, such as an interpreter; however, at the discretion of the child's team, certain students may mainstream without an interpreter.
The high school of the Partnership Campus is located at East Longmeadow High School. These classes operate in a manner similar to those of the middle school, and enrollment in accelerated and Advanced Placement classes is available depending on student interest. At the high school level, the variety of experiences available to the students increases as does the preparation for success after graduation.