Our Program: Sheppard Pratt School in Gaithersburg
We take pride in connecting our students with everything they need to thrive. With small class sizes, and a low student-to-staff ratio, personal attention and compassionate care are our top priorities.
Following admissions, we meet with each new student and their family to evaluate each student’s needs and review their Individual Education Program (IEP).
Our students are grouped according to age, social skills, behaviors, and ability, ensuring that they are working alongside peers in a supportive environment. We assess each student and determine the appropriate classroom for them. Most students also have a behavioral plan, helping maintain a calm and safe environment for learning life skills, gaining independence, or just playing. We meet our students at their level, ensuring that they are comfortable and can communicate appropriately so that learning comes more easily and effectively.
We prepare students for their futures, understanding that our students need more than what a traditional school can provide. We ensure that everything we do is educational, functional, and practical, preparing our students with the tools they will need to excel beyond the classroom.
Internships and Vocational Training
We partner with several local businesses to provide unpaid internships for our students. Each week, you can find our students at a local restaurant, the library, or Sheppard Pratt's community services programs. learning valuable real world job skills, such as how to greet customers, bus tables, or re-shelve books. Preparing for independence continues at school, where other businesses supply us with additional internship opportunities. Our students work hard creating jump ropes for a national company and pizza boxes for a large pizza franchise. Vocational learning continues throughout the week when our students visit our school store, staffed and stocked by the students as well. While all of these tasks teach job skills, they also provide multiple opportunities for learning life skills and problem solving, and we individualize these positions for the students based on their goals and needs. For example, a student that needs to work on social skills may greet customers at an off-site internship, while a student working on their math skills may focus on counting the number of parts needed per jump rope or working the cash register at the school store. These internship opportunities build confidence, language skills, and self-esteem, while also preparing our students for life after school.
Healthy Choices and Fitness
Through our vocational program, our students learn to make healthy choices, both in terms of self-care and how they live. Our students wear uniforms for their internships, both at school and in the community. Washing their uniforms is all part of their career readiness curriculum. In addition, we provide our students with opportunities to venture into the community to learn healthy habits while simultaneously allowing our students to hone their communication, social, and coping skills. Whether we are going to a restaurant, the post office, or Walmart, we continuously encourage self-care and independence. We know these tasks are difficult, and our students all receive additional group occupational and speech therapy throughout the week to assist with motor skills, communication, and self-esteem. We encourage health and fitness as well, and our playground accommodates everyone. Our students can be found outside here whenever the weather permits.
Active Learning and Events
We create a welcoming atmosphere at Sheppard Pratt School in Gaithersburg, incorporating fun activities, sensory breaks, and functional learning throughout the day. Our curriculum is hands on and practical, and often involves crafts, manipulatives, and technology. Each week, our students venture into the community for a recreational activity for fitness opportunities and the chance to engage in social outings, behavior management, and functional learning. These trips, which have included the Amazing Art Studio, horseback riding, the National Zoo, Imagination Stage, and more, allow our students to connect with the community while also preparing for their independent futures.