Beard School is a unique Specialty School with two very different types of programs housed in the same building. The school is located on the northwest corner of Jefferson Park, Chicago, near the intersections of Nagle and Gunnison. We currently have an enrollment of 210 students. Programs are designed to have an academic focus integrated with social emotional learning skills. Our success is based upon a high level of parent involvement in the school, partnered with high expectations for our students. Some of the student events that our students participate in throughout the year include Special Olympics Around the World, Kitchen Community Garden, Outdoor Nature Certified Classroom, Fall Festival, Family Reading Day, International Holiday Festival, Science Fair, Earth Day, and Student Recognition Assembly.

The largest program we have is our Early Childhood preschool program. Our preschool programs are comprised of full and half day sessions. Currently at our school we have general education, blended, and intensive supports preschool programs. Our half day programs are two and half hours long, Monday through Friday. Our full day preschool program is daily from 7:30-2:30 with priority given to 4 year olds in preparation for kindergarten. All of our preschool programs have a Gold Circle of Quality Excelerate rating with the state of Illinois. Our high-quality programs make our preschool programs one of the most desirable in Network 1. Class sizes for the general education and blended programs go up to 20 students, while the intensive support classrooms go up to 10.

Instructional practices provide developmentally appropriate, authentic, and culturally and linguistically relevant opportunities for reading, writing, speaking, and listening. English Language Learners are provided with supports daily. Creating a language-rich, positive classroom and school climate that promotes development of social-emotional competencies and meaningful connections between home and school is essential for early literacy development. Teachers use the Creative Curriculum to provide a balanced literacy program to ALL students, including diverse learners and English Learners. The Creative Curriculum for Preschool is a comprehensive, research-based curriculum that features exploration and discovery as a way of learning. The classroom will be based on hands-on, project-based investigations, to build children’s confidence, creativity and critical thinking skills while promoting positive outcomes.

The second program we have is our diverse learner program with intensive supports for students grades K through 3rd grade. Students in our diverse learner program are placed at Beard by the Office of Diverse Learners and Supports. Staff members are highly trained specialists in working with students on the autism spectrum and with other disabilities. All IEP’s will be honored at our school. Beard’s cluster programs are specifically designed to have an academic focus integrated with social and emotional embedded learning. There are at least two paraprofessionals assigned to every classroom, allowing students to be provided with intensive support for academic, social, and emotional development.

We utilize a variety of instructional approaches, teaching models, and communication methods geared toward student achievement. Our curriculums are academically aligned to the national common core standards. All of our teachers are Orton Gillingham (multi-sensory approach) and TEACCH (structured teaching and independent task learning) trained.

Small group instruction in student centered stations is the primary instructional strategy used by all teachers. Teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service providers are trained in utilizing Picture Exchange Communication Systems, Applied Behavior Analysis, assistive technology devices, SEL, technology integration, and classroom based models of therapy delivery of services. As a CPS intervention school, our role is to prepare students to return to their next school setting and provide them with the foundations necessary to be successful. Instruction throughout the school is highly differentiated to address the learning style needs of different students.

Integrating Fine Arts is a large component of Beard School’s curriculum. We are an awarding winning excelling fine arts school. Enrichment programs for our students have included partnerships with Hubbard Street Dance, Tiny Tunemakers, Urban Gateways, and Old Town School of Folk Music.

Therapy services are provided by a team of highly qualified related service providers. As a Chicago Public School, therapy services are delivered to students through a classroom based model in which students receive services with other classroom peers. Beard School provides speech, occupational therapy, psychology, social work, physical therapy, and nursing based on IEP eligibility and student needs.

Curriculums used at Beard include the Wonders Reading program by McGraw Hill, Singapore Math, Unique Learning Systems, Interactive Science by Pearson, Attainment, News-2-You, Imagine Learning (ESL), Raz Kids, and Handwriting without Tears. We also have many other supplemental software programs that differentiate for the individual learning styles of our students. Many students in our diverse learner program have a significantly modified curriculum, however all of our students have access to the supplemental support software programs.

The Student Annual Needs Determination Inventory (SANDI) is a specially designed comprehensive summative assessment for students with disabilities. We utilize the SANDI subtests in Reading, Communication, Math, and Social Emotional Growth to drive student IEP’s. This assessment assists teachers and IEP teams in identifying areas of need, aligns need areas to new state standards, guides IEP goal writing, and ensures access to standards-based instruction through evidence-based best practices.