Student Support Services
The VMS community embraces individual ways of learning and is committed to supporting children in an inclusive classroom with additional supports. The professionals in Student Support Services collaborate with students, parents and faculty members to create student-centered learning plans, which guide teachers' instruction and increases students' application of learning skills. These plans are designed to increase student opportunity to show mastery of content through multiple means.
When it has been determined that a student can benefit from academic accommodations such as extended time, assistive technology, visual aids, enrichment, or a modified workload, Student Support Services works with teachers to implement these plans. Additionally, this department provides support inside classrooms to work with identified students, and support older students with demonstrated learning needs during times outside of class.
VMS employs three full-time and two part-time professionals in the Student Support Services who hold graduate degrees and have formal training and expertise working with students who learn differently. Additionally, the department includes Kate Drescher, our clinical psychologist who provides consultation, short term counseling and crisis triage services, and primary prevention programming for the K-12 student and parent community, as well as a full-time counselor.
Academics was challenging for me but my teachers helped me grow by offering me support and providing me with the right kind of accommodations. Alumnus ‘21
As an independent school, VMS has the flexibility and capability to provide enrichment opportunities for all learners. In order to ensure that students are reaching their full emotional, intellectual and creative potential, we invest in a range of initiatives such as cross-age programming, outdoor education, and Intraterm offerings. In addition, students have access to opportunities to expand their knowledge through Maker-space, Digital creations, 3D Art, music, band, theater, After-School Academy, Project Based Learning/Student Inquiry, coding, foreign language, and Senior Projects. Through enrichment programming embedded in VMS daily life, students engage in critical thinking, collaboration, reflection, and develop a love of lifelong learning.
Specifically in Lower School, differentiated instruction is provided by utilizing ongoing assessment to look for indications of mastery and readiness for additional challenge. In addition to classroom differentiation, Middle School students find additional challenge in our Seminar program and by participating in clubs. The Upper School curriculum focuses on ability rather than age for placement and includes opportunities for students to take accelerated or advanced courses as well as Advanced Placement courses in many subjects. For example, students in 10th grade begin to differentiate their math and science courses, dependent on their success and academic balance in 9th grade. Specific to College Board Advanced Placement, VMS students are required to take the end-of-year cumulative test, which is nationally normed and scored. We view the test as a measure of course rigor and preparedness. Students are well prepared by the curriculum that leads up to the high-level coursework of APs. Seniors engage in a full semester of capstone senior project work where the sky is the limit in terms of creativity, access, and personalized learning. We strongly believe that a student will experience fulfillment when she is engaged with the community at the highest level. Therefore, enrichment of course can be rooted in academics, and it is fundamental it is supported by engagement in leadership, athletics, service and/ or arts.
Creating challenges for high-achieving students requires faculty who are singularly focused on the needs of each child—something we do very well at VMS. Where a good school knows your child’s name, a great school knows your child’s heart, and for accelerated learners, we know that their heart includes their head.