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.

Apply to Polaris Program

 

The Admission Process

  • Polaris is designed for 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.
  • The 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.

 

Purposeful Advising

  • 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.
  • A veteran Upper School faculty member and advisor works with all Polaris Program students.
  • The Polaris advisor meets with parents before the academic year to review a student’s most current neuropsychological evaluation.
  • The advisor and the Program Director 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.
  • Parents and guardians are regularly informed of developments in their child’s program and have access to a supportive “community of practice” of new and seasoned Polaris parents.

 

Rigorous Academic Program

  • 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 (Communication, 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: These classes are Polaris-specific sections taught using a workshop model. Study strategies, executive function skills, active listening, scaffolded note-taking, and frequent instruction in and practice of writing in a variety of contexts are built into these two classes.
  • Unscheduled Time: Students are encouraged to use any open periods in their daily schedule to meet with teachers or peer mentors or to complete out-of-class work.

Polaris requires students to be self-advocates, to know who they are as learners, and to intentionally seek appropriate support. You will become more skilled at seeking help and guidance for yourself so that you may more successfully overcome your learning challenges.


 

Richly Varied Wheeler Programs

Polaris is seamlessly integrated into the Upper School, affording students the benefits of being full members of the Wheeler community. Students have the opportunity to be actively engaged in the vibrant academic and cocurricular life of the division, with time and space to focus on their passions AND the chance to seriously drill down in skill areas and to remediate academic challenges.

There are abundant opportunities available with the co-curricular offered in the Upper School and within our Aerie enrichment program. A class of 90+ students offers diversity and ample opportunities to connect with others with whom you have common interests. Still, in instructional groups with as few as 8-10 students, your academic experiences will always allow for immediate, individualized support.

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

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