Berkshire Union Free School District is located on Berkshire’s Canaan Campus. Named one of New York’s top Special Act schools, Berkshire UFSD’s mission is to “provide a diversified and quality educational program, which will prepare each student to graduate from high school and return to his community as a contributing and successful member of society.”
Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth’s mission is to “strengthen children and families so they can live safely, independently, and productively within their home communities.”
Created in 2009, the Twombly Leadership Academy (TLA) was formed to provide a holistic academic and therapeutic environment to meet the diverse needs of special education students requiring a residential setting. The TLA is located on Berkshire’s Canaan Campus and is a true partnership between a lead child welfare agency and a top ranked public Special Act School District.
Created in 2011, Berkshire’s Workforce Development Program is designed to prepare students to become college and career ready post-graduation. Students who connect real work experience to what they’re learning in school are much less likely to drop out of high school. Through participation in the program, students are provided with a true school-to-work transition opportunity.
New York, we have a problem! The goal for all students is to become college and career ready. When it comes to special education we are struggling miserably. The graduation rate for CSE students is less than 45% and of those, less than 5% are college and career ready.
Questar III BOCES and Berkshire Union Free School District formed a Special Education Task Force in 2011-2012 to deal with this crisis, because ultimately – it’s about RESULTS!
Together, we have aligned out-of-district programming to meet the needs of most special education students in our region with a public school option.
Berkshire UFSD has created two specific programs for students with disabilities which creates a continuum of services beyond that of BOCES:
Students are educated in an enhanced 8:1:2 setting. Each academic classroom has a certified content specific teacher who is also certified in special education. We’ve replicated the comprehensive high school model where students switch classes while maintaining the fidelity of the 8:1:2 classification. The two Behavior Aides in the
classroom provide multiple opportunities for 1:1 support as needed.
Each student attends a credit bearing Humanities class which focuses on building the skills that CSE students with an ED classification typically lack. Utilizing a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach, students learn to self-regulate and manage emotions. Increased frustration tolerance and conflict management skills are also emphasized.
Located in every classroom, these labs provide students with 21st century technology skills to better prepare them in their future careers.
Available to all students, tutoring is provided in every subject area. Students who are excelling in specific classes have the opportunity to earn money by becoming peer tutors.
Utilizing a proprietary technology-based, content-specific curriculum, students can work at their own pace and make up credits in a variety of subject areas. Students are provided these opportunities after the school day in order to maximize learning.
Offered in English Language Arts and Math, these labs provide additional support for students to work on skill deficits as well as enrichment activities.
“Berkshire did not give up on me even when I gave up on myself! Finally, I started to work with the teachers, behavior aides and counselors to complete much of the work that I missed or refused to do and completed the 12th grade. They have continued to work with me and encourage me even though I am now in college. With their help and support, I enrolled myself in Schenectady Community College and I am attending classes. When they heard that I was planning to quit school when I got discouraged, they were on the phone helping me believe in myself again.”
– Jethro James, Class of 2012, Schenectady City School District
“Berkshire has been a great support to all of the students that we have placed there. Last year, Berkshire’s hard work helped Jethro complete his high school credits and assisted him in getting accepted into college.”
—Mary Beth Santoro, Schenectady City School District
“Having Berkshire’s Day Program to refer students to has provided an additional alternative for the Hudson City School District. Berkshire provides a small class size, dually certified teachers and 2 behavior aides in an 8-1-2 structure that has been a valuable resource for our district. Going to Berkshire provides a fresh start for students and gives them opportunities to catch up on incomplete credits and Regents to help complete their high school requirements.”
—Kim Lybolt, Director of Student Services,
Hudson City School District
All students take a credit-bearing course, designed to support the acquisition of the 10 most desirable workforce readiness skills. Students learn how to complete a job application, write a resume, prepare for a job interview, and much more.
Students can work in either the building maintenance or vending workforce programs. Berkshire has created in-house work opportunities at minimum wage for our students. Berkshire students, along with workforce mentors, clean and perform light maintenance in the school building. Berkshire has 10 vending machines on the campus and will be setting up machines in a variety of community locations requiring students to maintain inventory, fill product, and collect/deposit money. To maintain employment and success in school, grades are monitored weekly, academic support is provided daily, and adult mentors offer guidance.
Students develop a portfolio and resume which is saved on a web-based platform that they can access and update throughout their work history.
A component to the Berkshire Workforce Development Program is the placement of eligible students in externships in their home communities. A key factor in maintaining employment in this externship is consistent school attendance.
Brett Fortran, CSE Chairperson & Day Program Coordinator
Tel: (518) 781-3500 ext. 3596 Fax: (518) 781-4484