How We Educate
Discover Their Potential
Since 1996, Northstar Academy has helped students from a variety of backgrounds and with an array of needs to discover their true potential.
Northstar Academy’s customized teaching approach brings students of all abilities together in small classrooms where they enjoy personal attention and peer interaction. We focus on the whole child and serve students with a wide range of disabilities that affect learning. The result is a lively mix of students who appreciate each other’s unique talents as they learn and grow together.
Our school’s small size fosters a collaborative culture among the faculty and a unique team approach where each child is a priority. Through weekly meetings, the lower, middle and upper school teams can discuss individual student’s progress, effective teaching strategies and necessary education plan adaptations. Together, we create a flexible, student-focused environment that encourages greater progress and learning transference, thus building lasting success.
Transformation In Action
When you walk through our halls or attend an event, the smiling, confident students you will encounter easily demonstrate the impact of our approach. When you look at our documented student outcomes, the results are even clearer. Our approach to educating students with disabilities works. Our Lindamood-Bell Language and Math programs, our custom-designed Social Skills Program, and our Transition Program that prepares students for life beyond Northstar, are research based and results proven. Our innovative, arts-infused curriculum that incorporates cutting-edge technology is experiential and multi-sensory. These elements help our students overcome difficulties with reading, writing, spelling and math, while preparing them for a range of rewarding college and career choices.
With an 8:1 student:teacher ratio in our Upper School and a 5:1 ratio in our Lower School, Northstar’s small-class environment guarantees hands-on attention for each student. Our faculty and staff provide students the direct instruction and support they need to feel safe taking academic risks.
Our students learn at their own pace and receive personalized instruction that emphasizes their talents while strengthening areas of difficulty. Lessons are thematically based, applying multisensory teaching techniques to address the way each child learns best. Empowered with an understanding of how they learn and think, Northstar students can meet new challenges with confidence.
Groundbreaking tools and programs support this personalized approach. Teachers use Promethean boards and iPads to help students with a wide range of disabilities — autism, ADHD, emotional challenges, physical disabilities and more — achieve learning breakthroughs. In 2011, we introduced a unique teaching model to Central Virginia when we added the Lindamood-Bell Learning Process to our reading program. Since our Lindamood-Bell program has been in place, students across all age groups and a range of disabilities have made multiple years of growth in reading.
Understanding the link between neuroscience research and learning and achievement and using our in-depth knowledge of the brain and its fascinating complexities, our faculty integrates teaching strategies that encourage our students to take intellectual risks that inspire their passion for learning, ultimately preparing them to discover their individual paths to success. We are leaders in our field in using this highly effective neurological research-based program which develops the sensory-cognitive functions that form the foundation for learning, and we are the only school in the Richmond region currently offering this program during the school year.
As part of our instructional program, we annually administer standardized assessments to determine the appropriate instructional level and assess progress.
Recent result from our individualized reading instruction based on baseline assessments are:
- 45 percent gained up to two grade levels
- 11 percent gained between two and three grade levels
- 16 percent gained between three and five grade levels
- 5 percent gained more than five grade levels
- 23 percent were already reading on grade level so did not receive additional individualized instruction.
Recent results from our individualized mathematical instruction based on baseline assessments are:
- 39 percent gained two grade levels
- 12 percent gained between two to three grade levels
- 9 percent gained between three to five grade levels
- 7 percent gained more than five grade levels
- 33 percent were on or above grade level so did not receive additional individualized instruction.
Here at Northstar, we understand that the world of school is not just about learning academic skills. In order to be successful in school and in life, students need good social skills. Recognizing how critical to life success and happiness social skills are, Northstar has partnered with The Kluge Rehabilitation Center to develop a customized curriculum which prepares our diverse student population to form positive relationships and become successful, contributing members of their communities. Social skill interventions are rooted in assessing students’ executive functioning abilities — both behavior regulation and meta-cognitive development. These executive functions form the basis of how students approach social situations and solve interpersonal issues.
Our Social Skills program is a part of our mission to foster personal growth in our students. Larger concepts are broken down into smaller pieces and taught explicitly to students. Lessons are guided by monthly themes and by individual student development goals. We collect data on student social skills, examining both behavior regulation and metacognitive development (thought awareness, planning and goal setting). This unique Social Skills curriculum is taught by trained teachers in daily advisory classes. All social skills and goals are reinforced throughout the school day, both in and outside of the classroom.
Learn more about other programs offered at Northstar Academy: