School will Display Educational Innovations such as “Functional Classroom”
West Columbia, SC (James Bowers) - Glenforest School is a small, private, West Columbia based school that boasts only 34 students in grades K-12 during the 2017-2018 school year. Even though it’s small in size, its work in the education of those with learning differences over the course of its three-decade history however, is elephantine.
Alumni and their parents seem to share a common story. A student had been attending public school, falling through the cracks, and ostracized by their peers. They enter Glenforest, and suddenly they’re not only succeeding academically, they’re playing sports, participating in student government, and nurturing social lives. To many parents of these children, it was nothing short of miraculous.
The school was founded by Dr. Glenda Sternberg in 1983. Sternberg was herself a parent frustrated by the lack of suitable education opportunities. Over the next several years, the school saw enrollment swell from its barely-a-dozen average in the 1980s to over 150 in the mid 2000s. The athletic program boasted a varsity basketball club that won two state titles under Coach William Knopf. It seemed poised to grow larger, before factors such as the great recession crippled enrollment and financial resources.
Glenforest “refused to lose” in this troublesome situation, and the administration decided that the key to survival was to become more specialized. The school enhanced its focus on those with autism spectrum disorders, a longtime part of Glenforest’s population. Since then, the school has utilized specialized staff and resources to provide a unique, gainful education for these students. In addition to the usual subjects such as math, science, and history, students are taught skills in social competence and emotional coping. Parents report marked improvement in their children’s behavior as a result of this training.
Another big asset the school possesses is its new functional classroom. According to headmaster Heather Miller, the classroom will teach students basic life skills such as cooking, cleaning and budgeting. The facility will make use of specialized technology, and prepare students for independence once they graduate Glenforest. Miller says common postgraduate goals for Glenforest alums include preparation for careers through vocational training or postsecondary education at institutions such as Midlands Technical College. Others enter the workforce immediately after graduation.
Those interested in seeing this facility, as well as the other things that make Glenforest great, are invited to attend a wine and cheese drop in at the school on Thursday, October 26 from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Parents of prospective students will get a chance to take a look at what Glenforest can do for their children. Miller and other staff members will be present to answer questions about the school and its practices. Those interested in making donations to the school are also welcome.
Glenforest is a private institution, and relies on tuition and philanthropy for financing. Though the state’s “Exceptional SC” program helps some, fundraising is a constant must in Glenforest’s world. Even the smallest contributions pay big dividends.
The history of Glenforest School is filled with stories of exceptional students finally finding academic success and acceptance within its walls. With the addition of even more tools and resources to help their growth, the future looks even brighter.
Glenforest is located at 1041 Harbor Dr, West Columbia, SC. They can be reached by telephone at (803) 796-7622 or you can see their website at Glenforest.org.