Vertical Skills Academy (VSA), is a non-profit school offering intense remediation in academic skills for students with reading or language-based disabilities. Many of our students who have dyslexia also have dysgraphia, dyscalculia, language processing deficits, written expression disorders, issues with executive functioning and working memory, ADHD and learning disabilities in math. Although our students at VSA have been diagnosed with dyslexia, we believe their diagnosis is a gift and create a nurturing environment to allow our students to flourish and achieve their goals. Here are some ways that VSA caters to our students.
Our program is based on the principles of the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach in ALL subjects.
Students are focusing in on the meaning and parts of language not only in Reading and Writing but in Science, History, and Math as well!
45 min OG tutoring session built into the daily schedule.
Daily tutoring sessions limited to 1:1 or 2:1 in order to cater individually to students’ literacy needs.
Classes capped at 6:1
All of the staff at VSA have been trained in Orton-Gillingham methodology in order to cater specifically to our students with dyslexia.
Many of our teachers also have masters degrees in Special Education and Literacy.
Our teachers follow Colorado State Standards and Common Core Standards in all subjects so that students do not fall behind from their peers in public schools. Science also adheres to federal NGSS standards.
The curriculum is delivered in a creative and relatable fashion, individualized to each student, so that students can connect to it in a way that makes sense to them.
All students receive their own Chromebook provided by the school, preloaded with learning apps such as Typing Club, Reading A-Z, Spelling City, and IXL.
Students use speech-to-text and text-to-speech tools to help them write longer assignments and read higher-level text online.
Our school social worker meets with students to promote social, emotional, and academic growth with both 1:1 counseling sessions and group counseling work.
On top of weekly scheduled meetings, students are given the opportunity to advocate for themselves with a self-referral form and can request to meet with our social worker whenever they feel the need.
Students take at least one field trip a month in order to enrich the knowledge they learn in the classroom, apply it to the outside world and other avenues, and have meaningful experiences.
Our partnership with the Buchanan Rec Center allows our students to receive PE classes from certified instructors.
VSA has two wonderful reading therapy dogs who attend school daily. Cooper, a three-year-old yellow lab mix, and Milly, a four-year-old cocker spaniel poodle mix. They allow our students to practice the skills of reading in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere.
Many of our students are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates. By sitting down next to our therapy dogs, all threats of being judged are put aside.
Research suggests that reading to a dog has a beneficial effect on a number of behavioral processes which contribute to a positive effect on the environment in which reading is practiced, leading to improved reading performance. We are privileged to have so many four-legged reading friends here at VSA.