St. Joseph’s School for the Blind (Ages 3-21)

St. Joseph's School for the Blind Programs

Introduction

Through our 5-day-a-week education program with an extended summer school year option, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind provides students, ages 3 to 21, with the pragmatic skills of personal independence and academics needed to live and work in the community as well as the opportunity to make the very best of their unique abilities. St. Joseph's serves students with diverse needs and goals. 

Individualized Education Plans (IEP) are developed annually for each student and provide the framework for a student’s educational path whether it be returning to their local school district, graduation to a post-secondary educational setting, a job, supportive employment or a supervised adult day program.  The IEP is also used to identify the needed supports and services and the most appropriate educational setting for the student.  


Preschool (ages 3-5)

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind's preschool program is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of children, ages 3-5 years, with visual impairments and/or additional developmental, physical or medical disabilities. Through games, play and rich academic activities, children learn the age-appropriate attitudes and skills necessary for academic and interpersonal success. Classes are small led by a NJ Certified Teacher of Students with Disabilities and/or Teacher of the Blind or Visually Impaired and at least two teacher aides.  The typical student to teacher ratio is 2:1. Social workers, physical, occupational and speech therapists, and orientation and mobility specialists work in close partnership with the classroom teacher to implement each child’s IEP.

St. Joseph's preschool program provides opportunities for each child to learn and practice developmental skills that all children require.

These skills include:

  • • Maximization of all senses including any remaining vision
  • • Basic academics
  • • Effective communication
  • • Self awareness
  • • Gross and fine motor skills
  • • Socialization
  • • Self-care: feeding, toileting, washing and dressing
  • • Orientation and Mobility

Education Program (ages 5-21)

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind education program includes students, ages 5 to 21, kindergarten through grade 12.  Students are assigned to homerooms based on their abilities and learning needs.   The maximum age range within a classroom is four years.   The typical student to teacher ratio is 2:1.

Curriculum

The classroom program is based on the Common Core State Standards and the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards.  Classroom instruction utilizes the Unique Learning System Curriculum and is modified and adapted by teachers to meet individual student learning styles and developmental levels.  Special attention is focused on teaching functional and useful life skills and to ensure each student’s ability to generalize these learned skills.  Instruction includes multisensory activities and assistive technologies designed to facilitate access to lessons. 

Students in grades 3 through 8, and grade 11, participate in statewide assessments.

Therapies and Other Related Services

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind believes that students with special needs deserve and need a coordinated and comprehensive approach of all those involved in their educational process.  To that end, St. Joseph's integrates therapies and educational services into the school curriculum. This requires the expertise and skills of a professional team. Parents/caregivers are viewed as an integral part of this team since they know their child the best and therefore, their insight, input and cooperation is essential.  

Therapies and Other Related Services include:

  • Braille Instruction – Students who are blind or visually impaired are provided literacy instruction which may include instruction in Braille.
     
  • Health and Medical Services - The school nurse provides medical, first aide, emergency care and additional nursing services as delineated in a student’s IEP. Student growth and development is monitored with appropriate screening or referral when necessary.
     
  • Music Program The music program addresses the cognitive, physical, emotional and social needs of our students. Individual and group instrumental and voice instruction may be provided depending upon student interest and ability. Classroom sessions promote music appreciation as well as assist students enhance memory, communication, express feelings and manage stress.
     
  • Occupational Therapy – OT services are provided to promote student’s ability to perform tasks in their daily living and school environments. Occupational therapists may address sensory motor challenges, functional limitations, and/or perceptual problems.
     
  • Orientation and Mobility – O&M instructors teach students with visual impairments how to move safely and as independently as possible in their school, home, and community and to increase awareness and understanding of their environment.
     
  • Physical Therapy – PTs provide services related to a student’s functional use of his/her body for mobility, postural alignment, and maintaining/ improving endurance. The purpose is to promote a student’s independent functioning and to decrease the effects of the physical disabling condition on the student’s ability to participate in the educational process.
     
  • Speech Language Therapy – Speech/Language services assist students to learn effective ways to communicate verbally as well as with augmentative and alternative communication systems. In addition, they work with students in the areas of oral-motor development, social language, concentration, memory and information processing.
     
  • Social Services/Counseling & Advocacy – The social workers offer an array of services to the families and students including: counseling, advocacy, information and training. In addition, the social workers are the liaison between the SJSB and a student’s local school district.

Therapies and other related services may be provided in a variety of ways as determined through the IEP process:

  • Individual therapy both in and outside of the classroom
  • Co-treatment options (ie. PT and OT treat together)
  • Small groups of two or three children
  • Skill specific groups: aerobics/fitness, sports, feeding, pre-vocational, social skills, functional play skills

Life Skills Training and Transition Services

The goal of the life skills training and transition services is to equip each student with the basic skills necessary to live as fulfilling and independent life as possible. This includes instruction in self-awareness, self-determination, self-care, socialization, effective communication, independence, and acceptable behaviors. Transition for our students may mean a return to their local school district, graduation to a post-secondary educational setting, a job, supportive employment or a supervised adult day program.

  • Creating an individualized Transition Plan for students is vital as they prepare for the adult world.
  • On and off campus training opportunities and learning activities include:
  • Appropriate on-the-job behaviors
  • Effective communication
  • Personal care
  • Home skills – laundry, cooking, cleaning
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Time management
  • Community mobility
  • Social etiquette
  • Decision making
  • Money management
  • Travel Training
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Planning for the future

Concordia House Residential Option

The Concordia House Residential Program is a five day/four evening per week residential program for students who attend the day school program. Concordia House prepares students to be as independent as possible for their lives after SJSB. By providing successful living experiences, the program fosters the development of a positive self-image. No other similar opportunities are available or provided for students who are blind/visually impaired and have other disabilities in New Jersey.

The Concordia House staff works in close partnership with our St. Joseph's Education Team to ensure individual education goals are taught and reinforced.

Concordia House offers:

  • Comprehensive life skills training in a homelike environment
  • Opportunities to learn in a natural setting
  • Spacious living quarters with furnished private or semi-private bedrooms
  • Well equipped living and recreational areas
  • Typical student to staff ratio is 2:1
  • Integrated security system
  • Individualized Habilitation Plans (IHP) aligned with IEPs for every resident to maximize their educational progress.