In January 1993, NSSA was proud to open The Martin C. Barell School, named in honor of then New York State Board of Regents Chancellor, Martin C. Barell. Chancellor Barell shared our vision and advocated for our programs to the New York State Education Department. The Martin C. Barell School provides a full-day, twelve-month program for school age children ranging in age from five to twenty-one years. It enrolls a maximum of twenty-five students, with an instructor-to-student ratio of 1 to 1.5. The small size and high teacher-to-student ratio are integral to achieving optimal results for each student. They allow for the promotion of a significant degree of individualization of each student’s program, curriculum, reinforcement, and motivation systems, as well as intensive clinical oversight and on-going data analysis.

The highly structured program is based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), in which each child has behaviorally defined and measurable goals. Each child’s progress is reviewed regularly so that if the child is not learning, adaptations to the teaching procedure can be made immediately. On-going assessment of each student’s reinforcement preferences leads to the development of highly individualized motivation systems for all students. Ultimately self-monitoring, or the ability to deliver one’s own reinforcement in the absence of teacher supervision, is the goal.

Students receive instruction in a variety of settings (i.e. in the classroom, at home, and in the community). Student-to-teacher ratios are based on the individual needs of each student. Some receive instruction on a one-to-one basis for some or part of their day, others are taught in small groups, and still others are slowly integrated into public school special or regular education classrooms in their home district.

young boy getting off a school bus

Each student’s program is designed to teach pre-academic and academic skills, communication, recreation, socialization, and daily living skills. Depending on the needs of the student, behavior reduction plans to reduce and replace inappropriate behaviors are designed, implemented, and monitored on an on-going basis. Careful attention is placed on the systematic generalization of skills from school to the home and into the community. The goal of each child’s program is to increase independence, communication, and socialization skills and to enable students to maximize their full potential and become contributing members of their households and communities

Parents play an integral role in their child’s education. At the Martin C. Barell School parents receive extensive training, both in school and at home, in the principles and application of behavioral theory and teaching techniques. This training empowers parents to be active participants in their child’s education program and enables them to support the transfer of newly acquired skills to the home and community. In addition, families receive specific instruction in their home on an as needed basis, to address goals and challenges specific to their child and family (e.g. eating and/or sleep disorders, aggression, dining out in restaurants, attending a sibling’s sporting event, shopping, haircuts, doctor/dental visits, etc.). Family support is also provided through NSSA sponsored parent training and an open door visitation policy.