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School-Home Collaboration is a Cornerstone of The Gillen Brewer School

School-Home Collaboration is a Cornerstone of The Gillen Brewer School

This school for children with significant learning challenges on the Upper East Side works with parents to ensure students are getting the instruction they need.

The Gillen Brewer School, located on the Upper East Side, is an independent school for children with special needs. The school focuses on school-home collaboration to ensure each student receives the instruction that meets his or her needs and abilities.

Noah Feller, a 9½-year-old with apraxia of speech and hearing loss, attends The Gillen Brewer School. “The way [the school has] collaborated with us to ensure that the things we’re doing outside of school are consistent with what they’re doing in school—I’ve seen that teamwork make a difference,” says Noah’s mom, Stacey Feller. 

That school-home partnership is a cornerstone of the school’s philosophy, according to Julian Parham Santana, director of admissions, marketing, and outreach at The Gillen Brewer School. The school was founded by two special education teachers for children with significant learning challenges. It’s a 12-month curriculum that focuses on differentiated instruction to meet each student’s needs and abilities.

“Noah has improved his speech production since enrolling at Gillen Brewer last year—he has articulation issues. Just the other day, they sent home a video of him saying a sound…he was not able to produce before. We’ve been working on it at home and they’ve been working on it at school. It kind of took our breath away because it’s evidence of how working together can make a change,” she says.

The Gillen Brewer School’s elementary school-age program has two class sizes—10 students and six—and each class has three teachers, as well as a team of therapists assigned to it consisting of a speech-language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and a psychologist. Noah is in the smaller class setting and Feller says one of her main goals for Noah is to increase his independent social interaction with peers. 

“Gillen Brewer took that very seriously when we discussed it with them. So, they focused on his areas of strength and have integrated him into some of the larger classrooms for certain subjects,” she says. “He’s benefitted because he has these various organic opportunities for peer interactions that we’re really hoping for, as well as the individualized instruction that he needs.”

The school-home partnership doesn’t end with the student’s needs. The Gillen Brewer School has a team that is dedicated to working with the family, offering workshops for grandparents and siblings, support groups for parents, and an in-house legal counsel who helps parents navigate the special education system, Parham Santana says.

Main image: Stacey Feller says the school-home collaboration with the Gillen Brewer School has made a difference for her son, Noah (pictured).
Courtesy The Gillen Brewer School


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Katelin Walling


Katelin Walling is the Editorial Director for NYMetroParents. She can often be found reading, knitting, or whipping up a vegan treat—all with a cup of coffee nearby.

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