Enrollment Begins at World-Class Private Boarding School for Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism

Shrub Oak International School – a new, world-class special education boarding and day school that will serve an international population of young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – today announced that it is now accepting students for the next school year, which will begin in September  2018. The Westchester County school’s mission is to advance autism education by providing the field’s most innovative evidence-based academic and therapeutic approaches as it helps students prepare for a purposeful, independent future.

An Integrated Mix of the Right Transition-Focused Experiences, Interventions and Learning Curricula

“Our central guiding theme is that, with an integrated mix of the right transition-focused experiences, interventions and learning curricula, every student can succeed on the path toward a fulfilling future, when educators are attuned to the individual’s unique abilities, interests and goals,” said Dr. Dianne Zager, Shrub Oak’s Head School. “Shrub Oak is being set up as a center of excellence, where we will use our expertise to discover each student’s interests, abilities and strengths; then we will employ best practices and resources in a state-of-the-art, immersive learning environment to ensure that when a student graduates, it is into a world of possibility.”

Shrub Oak Leadership

Earlier this month, the school announced its founding by renowned visionaries, including:

  • Dianne Zager, Ph.D., Head of School is recognized globally as a pioneer in autism education. She has consulted with school districts across the U.S. to develop autism educational programs and founded one of the nation’s first college support programs for students with autism. She has served as president of the International Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, and has over 30 years’ experience directing graduate and post-graduate programs to train school personnel in autism. Dr. Zager has done extensive work in the transition of students with autism to adulthood and employment. She was founding editor of Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, one of the most widely read autism journals in the nation.
  • Wendy Eklund, MBA, Head of Student Life has extensive experience designing student-life experiences that provide engaging, enriching opportunities for students. As assistant director for residence life at Sarah Lawrence College, Wendy administered all the housing logistics, identified ways to improve student experiences and engagement in the residences, and oversaw the resident advisors and hall directors.

The Campus Will Integrate Nature, Agriculture and Cutting-Edge Technology

Shrub Oak sits on the 127 acres of bucolic, hilltop grounds of a retrofitted former-seminary in Westchester County, New York. The campus will integrate nature, agriculture and cutting-edge technology to provide students with a sensory experience that is unmatched by any special education boarding school in the world. The building will include a modern gym, a restaurant-quality kitchen and dining facility, modern common rooms for socializing, state-of-the art classrooms, a well-appointed student hub, and well-designed dormitories. The space will also feature specialized art studios, a theater, exercise gym, with  numerous career training spaces and services. Its working farm includes livestock and crops set against a backdrop of open fields and wooded trails. A state-of-the-art, 24/7 security system will be incorporated into all areas of the building and grounds.

Residential and Day Student Enrollment

The school will ultimately have an enrollment of 391 residents and day students, aged 8 to 30+ years old. Each student’s program will maximize therapeutic and learning opportunities, not only in the classroom but also in the dining hall; on the fields and trails; and in the residential areas as well as the neighboring community.

Shrub Oak’s goal is to ensure that all students achieve goals to lead successful fulfilling lives. This includes employment and the ability to live as independently as possible upon graduation. In order to do so, each student will have an interdisciplinary team of clinicians, teachers and student-life professionals who will collaborate closely to construct and implement custom programs.

Individualized Educational Programming

Based on completely individualized educational programming, which focuses on each student’s unique needs, seamlessly integrating therapies and educational programs, curriculum will range from rigorous academic preparation for college to learned skills for independent living and future employment. The areas of emphasis for student program include executive functioning, social interaction, cooperative work, organization, time management, and task completion—all seamlessly interwoven throughout day and evening activities.


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