Ocean Academy is a school that provides educational programs for children with special needs, ages 3-13. These children may present with a wide range of disabilities that have stemmed from physical and learning disabilities, emotional disturbance, developmental delay, autism, and/or cognitive, visual or hearing impairment.
Beginning at age three, preschool children are offered a special educational program based on the High Scope Curriculum. They are presented with pre-readiness experiences that focus on language development, physical, sensory and perceptual motor integration, social skills and school adjustment. In addition, there is also a preschool program specifically developed for young children with autism. Using the High Scope Curriculum as its foundation, this program is highly individualized and carefully planned according to each child’s unique learning style. Concrete, hands-on activities and experiences are created in an effort to elicit beginning language, play, imitation and social interaction skills.
Once a child becomes kindergarten age, they are placed in a program based on their individual strengths and needs. Programs include Multiple Disabilities (MD), Behavior Disabilities and Autism. At the youngest level, the programs offer individual and small group instruction in learning readiness, self-care, language development, and social skills. Each child has an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) that outlines the specific goals and objectives that the child will be working on. These goals and objectives reflect the standards outlined in New Jersey’s Student Learning Standards. As the students get older, the programs focus primarily on the development of age-appropriate academic, language and social skills. In addition, pre-vocational activities are introduced as the student becomes ready for the transition to a high school setting. Integral to the curriculum are activities provided by the School Library/Media Center including story hours, independent reading, study skill development and multi-media computer access. A special section of the center is devoted to professional journals and resource materials are provided for parents and teachers. An Olympic sized swimming pool provides students with the opportunity to learn to swim within the physical education program. A very important skill for our students who live near the ocean.
Related Services are available and delivered according to a child’s Individualized Educational Program. Speech and Language Pathologists help students develop individualized, pragmatic communication skills through the use of verbal language, sign language, simultaneous communication (pairing verbal and sign language), and picture exchange or augmentative communication systems. The latter include picture books, language boards and a variety of computerized devices with voice output. Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy are provided by highly trained licensed therapists. School Psychologists, Learning Disabilities Teacher Consultants, and Social Workers provide individual and group support, guidance, and counseling to students and case management services.
The Cape May County community is very supportive of our students with special needs. An active group of parents, community members and staff participate in the extensive activities of The Cape May County Special Services Education Foundation, which supports the district's programs by providing resources for innovative programming and equipment for students. An active group of supportive parents supports the students and families through the Parent Teacher Connection.
Ocean Academy offers an Extended School Year Program (ESY). This is a 4-week session during which students continue to address the goals specified in their IEPs. Recreational swimming classes are provided during the summer, along with other summertime community and recreational activities.