Learning Department

Key's commitment to address individual learning needs grows out of its Mission Statement. Established in 1976 when the first learning specialist joined the School, Key's Learning Department now provides services to students in First School through grade twelve. The Learning Department serves students' needs through the employment of assessment testing, curriculum development, research, faculty professional development, and coordination of tutoring and small group support.

The Learning Department serves students' needs through the employment of assessment testing, curriculum development, research, faculty professional development, and coordination of tutoring and small group support.

With the recognition that children learn in different ways, the School's goal is to determine the strengths and weaknesses in each child's learning profile at an early age so that academic needs can be effectively met at each stage of development. The School works proactively with families and provides guidance and support should it become evident that a student's learning needs cannot be effectively met within Key's program.

The Learning Department provides services such as the Center for Academic Support in Upper School and support for Language Training and Workshop (taught in grades two through eight). Department members also work closely with the Upper and Middle School Writing Labs and Math Labs, provide assessments across Divisions, support for faculty instruction and methodology by introducing new ideas and materials, and enrichment opportunities for students as well as support for the School's Life Skills program and the mentoring program for new teachers. Further initiatives include faculty professional development in curriculum design and assessment techniques.

Areas of Focus By Division

First School

  • Individual screening of all Kindergarten students in the second half of the year, to assess pre-reading skills, and language/visual/auditory perception in preparation for their transition to first grade.
  • Regular coordination with Kindergarten homeroom teachers to provide materials designed to support phonological processing and phonemic awareness and to develop auditory memory, visual memory, and fine and gross motor skills.
  • Weekly assessment and discussion about individual student progress in emergent literacy skills.
  • Providing a bridge between the First School and the Lower School by gathering information about students early and supporting each one appropriately given their emergent learning profiles as they continue through Key School’s rigorous academic program.

Lower School

  • Work closely with homeroom teachers in support of curriculum development.
  • Meet regularly with homeroom teachers to discuss both student successes and learning needs, and to proactively determine areas where students may require additional support or benefit from enrichment opportunities.
  • Maintain a deep-seated knowledge of the students as individuals as well as a solid understanding grade-level dynamics.
  • Provide insight to optimal language arts/social studies and mathematics classroom placement decisions.
  • Provide small group instruction for designated second through fourth graders for whom explicit and multi-sensory instruction to support their reading development is beneficial.
  • Collaborate with School Counselor to provide age-appropriate Life Skills lessons encouraging students to reach out to others, to work collaboratively, and employ calming strategies.
  • Support students with study skills, time management strategies, and an understanding of their individual learning styles.

Middle School

  • Partner with Middle School teachers and advisors to provide them with a better understanding of individual students' learning profiles and, when necessary, to assess and address particular learning challenges individual students may face.
  • Provide support to all students in conjunction with other faculty members.
  • Teach Middle School Workshop, a support class to enhance reading, written expression, math and executive function skills.
  • Work collaboratively with the core academic teachers to support each student’s particular learning needs.
  • Be readily available to support all students in Middle School during the three advisory periods each week.

Upper School

  • Ensure a proactive position with regard to academic challenges students may encounter by collaborating closely with all academic departments.
  • Make suggestions about a student’s educational program, as necessary.
  • Provide students with learning protocols, or those who would benefit from more explicit interventions, with access to the Center for Academic Support (CAS) program where they receive instruction on the use of reading aids to develop and extend comprehension and enhance note taking, short and long-term planning, and study/test-taking strategies.
Key School high school teacher