St. Joseph’s School for the Blind

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind

Principal’s Welcome

Katie Hardgrove, Principal

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the St. Joseph’s School for the Blind Education program! Our program has been a proud part of the Jersey City community for over 130 years. We provide a comprehensive educational experience for children ages 3 to 21 with special needs that focuses on our school motto of our students “Learning to Be All We Can Be.”  

The staff within the program work tirelessly to provide a safe, caring, and compassionate learning community. We always put the best interests of our students and their families at the center of our purpose.  

Our educational program is in alignment with the Preschool Teaching and Learning Standards (for Preschoolers), New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS), Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Essential Elements as well as the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC).  

As part of our academic program, students also receive support from our Braille and Literacy Instructor and participate in Physical Education and Health classes, Art classes, Music classes, and Friday afternoon social and recreational Clubs. For our students 14 and older, they also participate in Pre-vocational and Life Skills based classes and Community-Based Instruction (CBI), Work-Based Learning (WBL), and Structured Learning Experiences (SLE) overseen by our Transition Coordinator.  

Therapy and specialty services include Speech-Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Orientation & Mobility, Counseling from our School social worker, and Health services overseen by our Nursing Department. Our facility includes a state-of-the-art Sensory room, Therapeutic swimming pool, student Media Center, therapy center, full-size gymnasium, assistive technology library, and playground with a sensory garden and wheelchair swing. 

I encourage you to reach out to myself or our School social worker with any questions regarding our school program or to arrange a tour of the building.   

Katie Hardgrove, M.Ed.
School Principal

St. Joseph’s School for the Blind is a New Jersey Department of Education approved private school serving students who are blind, visually impaired and/or with multiple disabilities (developmental, physical, medical), ages 3-21.


St. Joseph’s School for the Blind is a New Jersey Department of Education approved private school serving students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities (developmental, physical, medical), ages 3-21.  

Our goal is to promote each student’s ability to learn, work and live in the least restrictive environment possible. 

  • Comprehensive academic and life skills training
  • Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapies, Braille Instruction, as well as Orientation and Mobility training
  • An ADA-compliant, LEEDS Certified facility built in 2007 on a 3-acre campus
  • Collaboration with the student’s parents and local school district to determine a student’s Individualized Educational Plan (IEP)
  • School programs that are funded by the local sending school district and by fundraising.  There is no cost to families.

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. 

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology is an item, software, modification, or strategy that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional daily activities for students who are blind or low vision, including those with multiple disabilities. Many of our students have multiple disabilities, so meeting the needs of those students through the use of AT devices is essential. Assistive technology devices help students communicate, learn functional life skills, access computers and other equipment, maximize motor skills, and meet educational needs. 

Devices used by our students include:

  • iPads with build-in IOS accessibly features such as but not limited to VoiceOver and Zoom  
  • Promethean interactive whiteboards
  • Tactile overlays and manipulatives
  • Electronic Braille displays 
  • Optical text-to-speech readers
  • Digital audiobooks players
  • Talking calculators
  • Braille Math Windows® boards
  • Electronic Magnifiers 
  • Scanners, screen readers, screen enlargers, and Braille translation programs, equipment and software
  • Touch-screen computers
  • Alternative keyboards
  • Low-tech adaptations
  • Communication devices

Our Facilities

Our Campus

3-acre Campus

Our secure, 3-acre campus boasts expansive facilities tailored to accommodate visually impaired and multiply disabled students. The campus features specialized classrooms, sensory gardens, and recreational areas, fostering holistic learning and development.

Latest Assistive Technology

Classrooms are equipped with the latest assistive technologies including Promethean interactive whiteboards (above), iPads, touch-screen computers, electronic Braille displays, text-to-speech readers, talking calculators, Braille Math Windows® boards, electronic magnifiers, scanners, screen readers, screen enlargers, and Braille translation programs.

Small Class Size

Small class sizes encourage individualized attention, active participation, and meaningful interactions among students and specialists. This environment facilitates personalized learning, and stronger academic and social development..

Music & Art Programs

Art and music provide avenues for expression, sensory exploration, and joy. Through tactile experiences and adaptive instruments, students communicate, create, and develop emotionally and cognitively.

Indoor Therapy Pool

Our year-round indoor therapy pool builds strength, range of motion/flexibility, balance & endurance in a calming environment.

Unique Multi-sensory Room

For students who are multiply-disabled, we have a unique sensory room that …

On-campus Therapy Center

We have a dedicated therapy center for physical and occupational therapy.

Gym and Performance Space

In addition, we have more than 3600 sq. ft. for recreation and student performances.

Pre-School (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 programprovides 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.


Our educational program is in alignment with the following: 

All instruction is individualized for our students taking into account their learning styles and developmental levels.  As a result of our emphasis on individualized instruction, our school utilizes a variety of curricular programs to assist students in achieving their goals in the areas of academics, functional and life skills, social/emotional learning as well as ability to generalize these learned skills. 

Students have access to the following programs:

Instruction in the above programs includes multisensory activities and assistive technologies designed to facilitate access to learning material. All students are also provided with modifications and accommodations as appropriate.  

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. 

Physical Therapy

St. Joseph’s physical therapists are a dedicated team of rehabilitation specialists who understand the unique needs of students who are blind, visually impaired and or multiply disabled. As physical therapists in the school setting, we provide opportunities and employ treatment strategies to help children develop functional gross motor skills, optimize their positioning and posture by utilizing adaptive therapeutic equipment so that they can participate fully in schoolwide activities. We strive to help our students meet and surpass their goals and objectives as stated in their Individualized Educational Plan and use a collaborative approach with the student’s teacher and fellow rehabilitation colleagues. We utilize evidenced based practices to improve the student’s strength, range of motion, balance, motor planning, coordination, gait, fitness, endurance and sensory development and more.  We provide services for students from ages 3 to 21 years and have a large treatment room with a variety of therapeutic equipment, a gymnasium with parallel bars, treadmills, and equipment adapted for the blind, a full-size swimming pool and a state-of-the-art sensory room at our disposal. Our focus is on treating the whole child, not just their disability and having fun while doing it.

Occupational Therapy

Our occupational therapists are dedicated to developing their students’ functional independence so that they can participate as fully as possible in all the activities of everyday life. The students’ occupational therapy goals are tailored to address their unique challenges encompassing a broad range of skills. These skills include sensory processing, visual-motor coordination, and fine motor dexterity as they are used for educational learning, self-care performance, and play exploration. In order to foster independence, occupational therapists adapt the environment to meet each student’s needs, provide specialized equipment and devices for the students to use at school, and make recommendations to the classroom staff and students’ families to encourage carryover of skills. All of this adds up to our students achieving their goals, which is what occupational therapists strive for because when our students succeed, we all succeed.

Speech Therapy

The speech therapy department at St. Joseph’s School for the Blind, provides individualized therapy to meet the communication needs of all of our students. Speech therapists are pivotal for communication, social growth, and holistic development. Tailoring expertise to individual needs, they address feeding challenges, employ Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), and promote language through play-based techniques. These activities enhance not only communication but also social and pragmatic skills, vital for enriching interactions on a daily basis.  

Beyond the classroom, therapists adopt a community-based approach, bridging school learning with real-life communication. This empowers children to independently apply their skills in various settings in the community. Through inter-professional collaboration with families, educators and other providers, therapists champion consistent and evidence based communication strategies, ensuring meaningful interaction and active participation.  

In the realm of multiple disabilities, visual impairments, and blindness, speech therapists offer a conduit for connection and empowerment. Employing feeding therapy, play, AAC tools, and an inter-professional approach, our therapists illuminate the path to effective communication, encapsulating the essence of growth in every child.  

Therapies and Other Related Services include:

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

Art Program

At St. Joseph’s School for the Blind, our dedicated art specialist focuses on the expressive and therapeutic dimensions of art, emphasizing emotional expression, sensory exploration, self-exploration, social interaction, cognitive stimulation, and coping strategies. Through various art mediums, including tactile projects, students can communicate emotions, enhance sensory awareness, explore personal identity, foster social connections, stimulate cognitive processes, and find relaxation. Our tailored art services aim to meet the unique needs and abilities of each participant, fostering a meaningful and inclusive experience for all. 

In addition to our comprehensive art therapy program, St. Joseph’s School for the Blind recognizes the importance of art education for the visually impaired. The art department is committed to providing an inclusive environment where every student can explore and express their creativity, fostering a love for the arts that transcends visual limitations. Through a combination of art therapy and education, we strive to empower our students with enriching artistic experiences tailored to their unique abilities 

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 and help students enhance memory, communication, express feelings and manage stress.

Work-based Learning Experience

The goal of the work based learning experience is to equip each student with the basic skills necessary to live as fulfilling and independent life as possible. This includes instruction in career awareness, career exploration, career preparation, and career training. 

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 14yrs old and over is vital as they prepare for the adult world. Supported on and off-campus training opportunities and learning activities include:

  • Effective Communication
  • Organizational Skills
  • Daily Living Skills (Laundry, Cooking, Cleaning, etc.)
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Time Management
  • Social Etiquette
  • Decision-making
  • Financial Literacy
  • Community Exploration
  • Travel Training
  • Self-Advocacy 
  • Planning for the Future

Braille & Literacy Instruction

Supplemental Braille and Literacy instruction is essential for students who have acquired fundamental prerequisite skills. We are committed to fostering literacy and independence. Students increase reading and writing skills through special instruction emphasizing phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Students also develop word analysis skills, spelling, and writing skills. Learning and understanding the associated rules of the Unified English Braille Code is at the core of instruction. Braille technology is available if appropriate to the individual student. Referral, observation, and evaluation determine supplemental Braille/Literacy instruction and frequency. 


All professional staff of St. Joseph’s are licensed by the NJDOE and are highly qualified. The staff includes:

  • Teachers of Students w/Disabilities
  • Teachers of the Blind or Visually Impaired
  • Orientation and Mobility Instructors
  • Braille Instructor
  • Music Teacher
  • Social Workers
  • Artist In Residence
  • Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapists
  • School Nurse
  • Teacher Aides
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