Polaris: For High School Students with Dyslexia

Polaris is the name of the North Star, a tool for navigation and a symbol of finding direction. During what could be a turbulent time on your educational path, Polaris offers guidance as an academic support program for bright, qualified high school students with learning differences.

Polaris offers guidance as an academic support program for bright, qualified high school students with learning differences who are from public, private and parochial schools and who have been accepted to the Wheeler Upper School. The first cohort of accepted 9th-grade students began classes in Fall 2020.

Accepting Applications for September 2024
For information contact Anna DiStefano today

Apply to Polaris Program Here


  • Students with diagnosed learning differences such as dyslexia who are accepted to Gr. 9 at Wheeler and who would benefit from additional academic support and advising related to their learning profile while in high school.
  • Prospective students visit and are assessed by a Hamilton Middle School faculty member. A portfolio of work is collected during the visit along with supporting materials from your current school as well as your current neuropsychological evaluation.
  • Final determination of candidacy is decided by The Head of Wheeler Upper School, Director of The Hamilton School, and Directors of Enrollment at both Wheeler and The Hamilton School. Access and affordability information is in the block at the bottom of this page.
  • Enrollment is limited.


  • A veteran Upper School faculty member and advisor works with all Polaris Program students.
  • The Polaris advisor meets with parents to review a student’s most current neuropsychological evaluation.
  • The advisor and Wheeler’s consulting psychologist meet with each advisee in the early weeks of the school year to review the student’s evaluation to help them continue to understand their learning profile.
  • Each advisee meets with the advisor 1-1 to discuss academic needs on a regular basis.
  • Wheeler Peer Supporters meet with students periodically over the course of the year as part of the orientation to Upper School.


  • Students in Polaris take the following subjects with all other Wheeler 9th graders: Environmental Science,    Performing Arts, Foundation Art, Physical Education, Wheeler Whole Life Seminar (Health, Unity & Diversity)
  • Mathematics: A Math Placement test determines which Wheeler Math class a Polaris student will take.
  • Languages: Polaris students are encouraged to take Latin for its multi-sensory approach and positive impacts on vocabulary acquisition, but students may also elect to take Spanish.
  • English & History: The Polaris director is the teacher for these subjects for students in Polaris. Study skills, executive function skills, active listening, visual note-taking, etc. are built into these two classes.
  • Unscheduled Time: Students are encouraged to use any open periods in their daily schedule to meet with teachers, peer mentors, or to complete out-of-classwork.

Polaris requires students to be self-advocates. You are not going to be rid of your challenges with executive functioning, dyslexia, ADHD, etc.  You will become more skilled at seeking help and guidance for yourself so that you may more successfully overcome those challenges.


Polaris is integrated into the Upper School, giving students the benefits of being a member of the entire Wheeler Community. Students have the opportunity to be active, engaged members of the school community. Time and space to focus on their passions with the opportunity to seriously drill down in skill areas and academic challenges.

There are rich opportunities available with the co-curriculars offered in the Upper School and within our Aerie enrichment program. A class of 90+ students means a diverse makeup of your class. Opportunities to connect with others with whom you have common interests. Although, with a small instructional group of 7-9 students, your academic experiences will always allow for immediate, individualized support.

In other school settings, students may be pulled out of the classes to work more on specific skills at the risk of missing classes they are most passionate about (ie art, music, theater). Within Polaris, teaching skills are integrated into the regular, daily program. Skills aren’t taught in isolation, but rather are embedded in the classroom experience. We have found that as students strengthen their cognitive skills their talents and passions become more apparent.  At Wheeler, they can pursue these passions that may, in fact, guide their lives going forward.

Learning Difference Awareness on Vimeo


The Wheeler School Hamilton Polaris Program

Reach out to us for information about Polaris