Craig School New Jersey

Craig High offers unique approach to helping teens with learning disabilities and revolutionizes teen education with innovative programs fostering independence and self-confidence.

Written by Dr. Eric Caparulo, Director of The Craig High School

What do all parents and their teens have in common besides sharing last names and addresses? Surprisingly, it's high school. It is something that we have all experienced, yet each of us might define it a little differently. As adults, we have our own perceptions of what the high school experience was to us and what we walked out the doors with after our four-year secondary adventures. Some might say it was just a diploma, others the memory of a sports team and glory on the field, and still others would say it was just a springboard to college. One thing we would all say is that we wrapped up our high school careers with aspirations and hopes that we were ready to take on whatever the world had in store for us after graduation.

High school is an experience that we hope is both positive and fulfilling for our teens, that it prepares them for their next steps and lays a foundation for them to achieve academic and personal success. Based on that hope, high school needs to prioritize guiding our teens to not only becoming the independent learners that we as parents and educators know that they can be but, just as importantly, they need to also guide them in developing a strong sense of self.

At The Craig School - High School, becoming an independent learner and strengthening one’s sense of self go hand in hand. For all teens, it is essential for success, but for teens with learning disabilities, it is even more so. Those with learning disabilities spend a significant amount of time during their early school years learning what they can’t do well, and in too many cases, those students start to define themselves by their learning disability. That is why at The Craig School - High School, we not only focus on guiding our students to become independent learners but also on developing that essential sense of self.

We accomplish this through a series of courses that make up our Self Program, a program that teaches our students that their learning disability is just a piece of the puzzle that makes them who they are. It will always be a part of them, but they are so much more. As freshmen, they start with Self and Group Dynamics led by our school psychologist where they learn about their learning styles, multiple intelligences, and their individual aptitudes, and how they connect to their success both in and out of the classroom. They also learn about their specific learning disabilities, individualized accommodations, and the focused, individualized strategies that allow them to manage their learning disabilities academically and socially.

The elements from the Self and Group Dynamics course then carry over into their Sophomore Career Awareness course, where they apply these aptitudes and multiple intelligences to the potentials of various career fields. They create their first student resume, explore the workplace, hear from experts in various career fields and prepare for job interviews.

Next comes Post-Secondary Exploration, where students apply all of their self- awareness garnered from the other Self Courses and begin to see the potential of post-secondary possibilities. Our Juniors learn about the college process with our Director of College Counseling, with a specific focus on support and accommodations. Students have an active role in the exploration of specific post- secondary schools and programs that meet their individualized criteria and further support their aptitudes and potential future aspirations.

Our Self Program wraps up with Life After High School, a course that lives up to its name. Students explore campus life, the idea of having a roommate, and what it means to truly be independent and accountable. They hear from recent grads who offer a current picture of life after high school through the lens of a fellow classmate who has learning disabilities.

When teenagers begin their high school adventures, they are closer to adulthood than at any other point in their lives. They are expected in the next four years to walk down that graduation aisle knowing who they are and what comes next. As educators and parents who have shared that high school experience and those same expectations bestowed upon us, we know the challenges that our teens will encounter. The higher their self-esteem, the greater their self-awareness
(learning disabilities and aptitudes), the willingness to embrace who they are as a whole person (self- acceptance), and their ability to pull that all together to effectively self-advocate is what we truly aspire for our teens. This sense of Self will allow our Craig High future grads to take on whatever the world has in store for them after graduation and allow us fellow high school grads, parents and educators some peace of mind, knowing that they are going to be OK.



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The Craig School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate based on race, color, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

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