WSD offers a full elementary program comprising of 5 elementary classrooms. Students come from the local community (“day” students) and from across the state (“residential” students). The school has between 35-40 students, with class sizes ranging from 5-9 students per class. All classes have a blend of grade levels: kindergarten-1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, 4-6th grade. Small class sizes allow for individualized and differentiated instruction with close academic tracking.
Research shows that children who are fluent in more than one language are more likely to make greater academic progress. In WSD’s unique ASL-English bilingual setting, all content instruction happens in American Sign Language (ASL) and English print. There is a strong focus on developing literacy skills in both ASL and English. Students are assessed in both ASL and English as well as other mandated core content areas such as math, social studies or science. Students work in small groups, or on an individual basis. Classes utilize Writer’s Workshop and Signer’s Workshop, language experience activities, and hands-on activities as well as other curricula/pedagogies in math, science, health, social studies, physical education and art. Spoken language lessons are provided by a licensed speech and language teacher in small groups or on a one to one basis as outlined in individual student IEPs. We strive to teach multi-culturalism and diversity within our program.
In addition to developing language and academic skills, we believe that it is important for our students to develop their social-emotional skills. Our school counselor works with each classroom teacher in implementing lessons from the Second Steps curriculum. We teach social capital so that our deaf students develop navigational skills in a hearing-centric world. WSD has a critical mass of peers and deaf adult language models. Students have direct communication with everyone in the academic program. We want each child to become well-rounded individuals who have a healthy, positive self-esteem and are ready to embrace the world.