Academics and Interactive Learning

At Sheppard Pratt School in Rockville, all of our students engage in academic learning. Upperclassmen rotate classes as they would in a traditional high school program, allowing them to hone responsibility, flexibility, and organizational skills. Academic instruction is based on the Montgomery County curriculum, and can be remedial, on-grade, or advanced, depending on each student’s needs. We offer electives in foreign language, technology, health and nutrition and more, and our students benefit from a seven period schedule as they would in a traditional school. Every classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard, allowing our teachers and aides to access supplemental learning materials, videos, and the Internet. We have a newly renovated media center and computer lab and a full-service kitchen for our students to learn practical skills. We believe that education is more than academics, and that everything can be a learning opportunity.   

If appropriate, students in the high school programs can take college level classes at local community colleges. We assist these students with the logistics and provide any support students may need while taking these classes.  

Vocational Training

Walking onto our campus, you will notice the freshly planted flowers and how well kept the lawn looks. The students are the ones taking care of our school grounds, and they take pride in making sure it looks amazing. Each Thursday, students participate in ‘Work Day.’ Students are assigned jobs ranging from weeding and raking to mowing the lawn, while others are inside dusting or recycling. When Work Day is over, each student’s performance is peer-graded, and they are paid either in school coupons or actual money (depending on their grade level) if they have earned their keep! During winter, Work Day is focused on life skills, depending on the needs of the individual students and programs. Our Oakmont Secondary students learn skills to help them with independent living, such as money management, activities of daily living, job readiness, and hygiene. Therapeutic Community and Lodge students focus on college readiness, including research skills. 

Many of our students also participate in unpaid off-campus internships. Our transition coordinators work with students in identifying opportunities, and we assist students with all aspects of finding appropriate positions. While other students are participating in Work Day, these students work off-campus, learning valuable skills and preparing for their futures. 

Healthy Living and Fitness

Many of our students have expressed interest in extracurricular activities, but we know that it can be a challenge to find appropriate opportunities. Each quarter, the students get to choose two clubs to join from a wide range of options, including photography, cooking, sports, and video games.   

Additionally, we have our own volleyball and softball teams. These teams practice and play against other non-public schools. For those that do not play on the teams, there are plenty of opportunities for exercise during our intramural basketball games, exciting kickball games, and four square. Many of our students also enjoy our rock climbing wall, conveniently located in our multipurpose room. Not only do these physical activities encourage the development of motor skills, they also help students develop self-esteem, confidence, and relationship building skills. We have a playground that accommodates everyone, and our students venture outside whenever the weather permits. In addition to traditional physical exercise, many of our students receive occupational therapy from our trained therapist. You can often see our students riding scooters, bicycles, or wagons throughout the hallways as well.  

Therapeutic Supports and Services

The students in our programs often may be struggling at home and school, and they need extra support in areas such as communication, social skills, behavior management, crisis intervention, anxiety, and other occupational, emotional, and physical needs. We have seen success creating an atmosphere in which our students are provided the necessary tools to improve communication skills, build relationships, manage anxiety, learn to take responsibility, and begin to make positive choices. Our programs utilize a variety of therapeutic supports, including embedded small group counseling, community meetings, individual therapy, individual and multi family therapy, parent support groups, social skills groups, and use of social stories and thematic learning to teach social and coping skills. Our Lower and Middle School and Oakmont Primary students also participate in equine-assisted therapy. Special events such as door decorating contests, bake sales, the talent show, prom, and our annual snow tubing trip are both social opportunities and team building exercises that foster relationship and leadership skills. 

We believe in finding the right tools and the right environment for each student, and we can adapt our environment and curriculum to meet the individual needs of our students. We have student sensory rooms available for students to use when they need space or want to work quietly. While these rooms are available, we hope to keep our students in the classroom by focusing on goals and understanding our student’s challenges before interventions are needed. 

Our students receive speech-language therapy and occupational therapy as prescribed by their IEPs. We understand that our students need extra support, and we have social workers, behavior specialists, psychologists, and a psychiatrist available to support our students as needed. Students in our programs receive individual and group counseling and are continuously working on social, problem solving, and emotion regulation skills throughout the day.  

We highly value family participation in our treatment programs and feel that collaboration between home and school is crucial for our students’ success. Regularly scheduled parent meetings and support groups are offered in our Oakmont Primary and Secondary programs and weekly family counseling is required in our Lower and Middle School, and Therapeutic Community and Lodge programs.  

We are an award-winning Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) school, and use this incentive program extensively throughout our school. When our students meet the school-wide expectations of respect, responsibility, and safety, they earn points that they can swap out for items in the school store or other rewards such as field trips or special events, like ‘Minute to Win It’ or ‘Art on the Lawn.’ Through this program, we continuously enable and encourage our students to understand their behavior and make positive choices.