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Valley Forge Specialized Educational Services Corporation

Rating: 5 stars   1 review 257


Po Box 730 Paoli PA 19301 USA


Valley forge educational services prepares children and young adults with special needs to realize their potential as contributing members of the community.


The vanguard school is a licensed pennsylvania approved private school and a program of valley forge educational services, serving students 4-21 years of age. During 2013-14, the vanguard school served 255 classified students (with autism spectrum disorder, neurological impairments or emotional disabilities) from fifty-five school districts in nine counties. During the year, the school implemented life centered education for the application of daily-living, self-determination and employment skills. The curriculum task force examined and aligned health and sexual education with pennsylvania standards for what children should know in these topic areas. Vanguard's commitment to each student's individuality, unique strengths and personal development is apparent in our 19 graduates this year. These students successfully transitioned either into the work force or pursued post-secondary education. The elementary school administrators spearheaded numerous initiatives to provide groups of students with the support needed to achieve personal and academic growth including developing childhood apraxia of speech programming. A major emphasis was placed on mathematics and science with students participating in numerous enrichment activities. The elementary school also focused on developing students' health and wellness by participating in "adventure to fitness," an interactive fitness program, as well as a weekly intramural sports and fitness program. In the middle school, our children continued their journey reaching for increased independence from their parents and becoming more involved with their peers, school and community at large. To this end, a major focus included improving self-advocacy skills and promoting self-reliance. To facilitate social skills development, many of the students participated in lunch bunch, a more structured lunch session that provides opportunities to create friendships and encourages positive peer interactions. To expand independent living skills, students cooked recipes for special occasions and discovered healthy alternatives to unhealthy food. In the high school, academics, career preparation, pro-social behavior, daily-living skills and communication were reinforced and extended systematically through scheduled curriculum-related community-based trips. Our students also enjoyed many recreational, leisure and social activities; they made lasting memories with good friends at homecoming, holiday celebrations, monthly dances and prom. The vanguard transition center provided 55 students with workforce readiness skills, either through on-campus work experience or through our community-based vocational training program. Staff worked closely with these students to leverage their employability strengths, review career interests, increase self-confidence and self-advocacy and build routines to promote health, wellness and recreation. The vanguard school also provides onsite therapy services in the form of speech-language, occupational and physical therapies as well as nursing, behavior support, school counseling and psychological services. The majority of therapists are full-time staff and each plays an integral role in the development of a child's educational program. In 2013-14, the expanded use of technology continued to occur with ipads, smartboards, augmentative and alternative communication devices and therapeutic listening programs introduced, as needed, within both occupational and speech-language therapy sessions as well as classroom settings. Many students across programs participated in the work orientation and readiness center and on-campus work programs. Valuable lessons were developed while the students engaged in functional work tasks. Students practiced social skills and gained valuable work experience with support from therapists and other staff. The vanguard school's occupational therapy department also serves as a field placement site for ota and masters level occupational training program students from several local and regional colleges and universities. Community service remained a core value throughout our schools. Students participated in many community-service projects over the course of the school year. The strength of these community connections support and enhance our service learning program, where meaningful community service coupled with instruction enriches the learning experience, teaches civic responsibility and strengthens our students' roles in their communities.

the luma center continues to serve our community with a wide variety of programs and services. A family often contacts us when they have a question or concern about their child's behavior or if their child seems to be developing differently than other children around them. It was a year of program development and planning at the luma center. After engaging and working with early childhood professionals throughout the region, the luma center team saw a need for, and were inspired to, create a preschool program for children who would benefit from an academic transition program before starting kindergarten or first grade. Research, focus groups and comprehensive planning paved the way for the creation of a new program for children, 4-6 years of age, which embraces the concept that each child learns in a different manner. Starpoint is designed to provide a positive classroom experience for the child who needs an alternative solution to a traditional school-readiness program and support in developing the foundational skills needed to jump-start his or her education. The luma center is also a valuable community resource for schools and community organizations, providing a number of parent and professional workshops annually. This past year, support and learning session topics included exploring sensory processing disorders, understanding learning and teaching styles, gaining strategies for helping children develop effective communication and social skills and how to build self-regulation and executive function. For the third year, graduate students from philadelphia university worked with the luma center in a new program, sensory motor play and learn group. This special program was offered to children, 3-5 years of age, with developmental and learning challenges. The program provided an opportunity for the graduate students to work alongside the director of the luma center. The program was so successful, the team was invited to present at the pennsylvania occupational therapy association's annual conference.

we continued to see significant growth in and increased popularity of our summer matters programs this past year. Designed to help maintain a child's developmental progress over the summer months, the programs focus on helping children improve study skills and cooperative social interaction in both academic and recreational settings. The extended school year (esy) program had 207 students, 7-21 years of age, participate. Of those students, 36 participated in our vanguard transition center (vtc) summer experience program. The vtc summer experience offered an opportunity for young adults to maintain critical vocational and life skills. Some of our young adults also spent one week at eastern university in our independent living residency. The summer voyagers program welcomed 13 students from the community. The mornings focused on strengthening key academic skills in the areas of reading, math and language arts as well as teaching students strategies to strengthen executive function skills and support their unique learning styles. Afternoons reinforced key executive function and social skills in the context of recreational activities including karate, creative arts, swimming and various community outings. Summer l. I. F. E. Camps supported 80 campers, 8-21 years of age, from pennsylvania, delaware, virginia, south carolina, new jersey and maryland at camp hope for kids' 90-acre property in schwenksville, pa. Additionally, summer l. I. F. E. Offered campers opportunities to travel to fenwick island, delaware and albrightsville, pennsylvania. The focus was to support campers as they cultivated friendships, expanded their repertoire of leisure and recreational activities and practiced daily living skills away from home. Many of our summer l. I. F. E. Participants qualified for financial assistance through the educational improvement tax credit (eitc) scholarship program. We hosted four weekend retreats this past year, providing youth and young adults opportunities to live away from their families and practice real-world life skills at camp kweebec, mount gilead camp and conference center and fenwick island, delaware. Vanguard school students and past summer l. I. F. E. Campers participated. Many of our weekend retreat participants also qualified for financial assistance through the eitc scholarship program. Our sixth annual "special kids" camp expo was a success. More than 70 families and professionals from southeastern pennsylvania learned about educational and recreational summer programs offered to youth and young adults with special needs. More than 35 vendors from the region represented a wide array of programs and resources for families including day and overnight camps, therapeutic programs, recreational programs and more.

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Reviews for Valley Forge Specialized Educational Services Corporation

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Valley Forge Educational Services (VFES) is an extremely important player in the field of specialized educational solutions for students, parents, educational and mental health professionals, and education-based organizations. It has over 50 years of experience in the special education arena and is know for its expertise in learning solutions for children and families who experience Autism Spectrum Disorders, neurological impairments, emotional overlays, and learning disabilities.

I find VFES to be an able and knowledgeable resource and provider of services through its Vanguard School, Luma Center, and Summer Matters programs and services. It also provides opportune professional development and research that is current and valuable to the education community at large.

When I look to share my philanthropic dollars, I always check in to see what VFES' initiatives are and how they are performing.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

How well it provides professional development and direct services to families and children.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Suggest expanding the Board of Trustees to ensure that there is a wide view experience base on how best to grow the organization from a local operation to a regional and eventually a national organization.

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