FAQFrequently Asked Questions
1. How long has Banyan been around?
Banyan was founded in 1993.
2. Is Banyan School accredited?
Yes. The Banyan School is private, non-profit, state-approved Private School for Students with Disabilities.
3. Is it important that a school be accredited by the State of New Jersey?
Approval by the State of New Jersey Department of Education means that Banyan Schools meet all the requirements and standards that are required of NJ Law and Administrative Code. This assures parents that all teachers are highly qualified and appropriately certified to teach Special Education and Content Area subjects. Accreditation is also extremely important for students in the ninth through twelfth grade. Most public schools will not accept transferred credits from private schools unless the school is state approved.
4. Does Banyan School have an Extended School Year program in the summer?
Yes, the Elementary and High School both offer an Extended School Year program. The Extended School Year program runs for five weeks, Monday through Friday, for four hours daily. The purpose of the Extended School year is to ensure maintenance of skills, and to avoid regression or skill recoupment problems that would likely occur, given an extended instructional break. In addition to providing daily classes in core academic subjects, both programs infuse technology, science, art and enrichment activities such as field trips, to create an appealing balance of work and summer fun.
5. What is the profile of students who come to Banyan?
There is no single profile that can describe our Banyan students. Our students each have their own strengths and complicated learning challenges. As such, we consider each prospective student’s profile individually, and determine whether we can shape a program to meet his or her needs. Our strong repertoire of teaching techniques and training in multiple specialized approaches enables us to create strong prescriptive programs for students who present with one or more of the following challenges, that can impact their ability to succeed in more typical educational settings:
- Reading, decoding and comprehension deficits
- Attention deficit disorder
- Autism Spectrum Disorders/Asperger’s syndrome
- Visual/spatial processing disorders
- Mild to moderate cognitive deficits
- Fine/gross motor incoordination
- Auditory processing dysfunction
- Short/long term memory deficits
- Social skills deficits
- Difficulty with organization/study skills
- Poorly developed executive functioning skills
With the support of our skilled staff, students work daily to overcome obstacles created by learning challenges. Our goal is to create a community that is grounded in respect for individual differences and that values the contributions of all of our students.
6. What is the relationship between Banyan School and public schools?
Banyan School staff members work closely with a student’s sending district. Often, public schools are challenged to find the appropriate educational setting for students whose learning needs require more time and intensity of instruction than can be afforded in a general education setting. Communication and planning are ongoing and collaborative between the sending district and Banyan staff, knowing that our goal is always to move students in a less restrictive direction, as they gain skills and academic competencies. As such, we are mindful of our responsibility to develop transition plans when appropriate, and to engage in regular discussions as to each student’s appropriateness of placement. Additionally, Banyan Schools are prepared to provide ongoing and sustained specialized programming across all grades and into early adulthood for the students who require that level of support and instruction.
We also serve as a training site for local district teachers and professionals in the community by offering professional learning courses in the Wilson Reading System. ® (hyperlink to more info on Wilson.) Our strong commitment to literacy instruction has led us in this direction, and we are proud to be working on becoming established as a Wilson Partner School.
Additionally, our high school has a partnership with Passaic Valley Regional High School, which affords our students opportunities to have an expanded group of peers for social, arts, and sporting events.
Banyan High School also enjoys a partnership with William Paterson University’s Young Adult Transition Program. This exciting program, run by the University’s Kinesiology Department, enables our students to visit the college campus regularly, to interact with college students, and to utilize campus facilities, while learning about the benefits of good nutrition, exercise, and recreation.
7. What is the admissions process?
- We invite parents, guardians, child study team members, attorneys, special needs advocates and others to call the school to speak to our Principals to discuss a student’s possible eligibility. [High school/Life Academy phone number. Elementary school phone number.]
- Applicants must submit student records, which will be reviewed by our Intake Team. Records should include a current IEP, Educational Evaluation, Psychological Assessment, and Social Assessment, along with any related evaluations such as Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy, and/or Neuro-Developmental Evaluations. Our Intake Team is comprised of the building administrator, the Learning Consultants, the Counselors, and other specialists as appropriate.
- If the Intake Team believes that Banyan is a potential placement, parents, student and child study team members will be invited for an intake appointment. Our process is will include information sharing, a verbal overview of the program, and a tour of the school. If all parties agree to proceed with a placement request, the student is invited to spend 2 full days (minimum) visiting with us.
- This visit provides classroom teachers and specialists to work with the prospective students and to observe the manner in which the student responds to the classroom, classmates, teachers and staff. By the end the student’s time with us, both our staff and the student/family will be better prepared to make a sound educational decision about the appropriateness of the placement.
- Banyan Schools accept new students at any point during the school year, space permitting, since the IEP process may result in such a determination at any time. It is not unusual for students to start at Banyan at any time of the year including the summer months when our ESY program is in session.
8. Is the Banyan School for students with primary emotional and/or behavior issues?
The Banyan School does not offer admission to students with primary emotional and/or behavioral issues.
9. How does Banyan address homework?
We believe that homework should be as individualized as the student. As such, there are no specific standards by grade level, nor requirements, and we strive to break patterns of negativity associated with homework. Banyan teachers typically assign homework that can be done independently within a reasonable amount of time. If a student is struggling with homework, please alert us so we can adjust the homework plan. We believe that it is important that our students have ample time after school to do what they love….sports, the arts, quality time with family and friends, or just plain “down-time.”
10. How many students are in each class?
One of our over-arching philosophies is that of providing true “small group” instruction, which is research proven as an effective strategy. As such, our average ratio is 1 teacher to 4 students. Our Language Arts Literacy courses and Mathematics classes are based on ability grouping and are consistently lower in ratio. Our Science, Social Studies, and Special Subject classes may be slightly larger (e.g. 6-7 students in a group). These ratios are maintained across all grade levels.
11. How does Banyan help students socially?
Social skills, like academic skills, can be taught. Promoting relationships is an important goal for our staff. The obstacles that occur in developing and maintaining peer relations are addressed in our school activities and curriculum, and in guided group sessions facilitated by our highly trained therapists and counselors. Our emphasis on teaching social skills is translated across all settings, and all adults in the program are skilled in supporting positive social skills in multiple settings.
At the Elementary level, multiple opportunities are structured to foster positive social interactions, including lunch bunch groups, weekly clubs, and monthly Saturday School activities.
For High School and Life Academy students, Social 4 Life provides fun social gatherings around events such as movies, dinners, the arts and more.
12. Do students have opportunities for typical types of clubs, activities and/or participation in the arts?
Yes, there are many opportunities across all grade levels. Beginning in the Elementary School, and continuing throughout the High School and LIFE programs, students are offered the following:
- Student Council
- Enrichment Clubs
- STEAM activities
- Music and Theater, Bergen PAC Artist in Residence program
- Instrumental lessons
- Competitive sports
13. Does Banyan have a prom or a traditional graduation?
Rites of passage are by far our most favorite and rewarding time. We offer a wonderful prom night for high school students of all grades, and we invite our friends from Passaic Valley Regional High School.
Similarly, we have a traditional graduation ceremony each year, to which we welcome families and friends. Our tradition is to have each student present a personal speech, which is heartwarming to experience, and most meaningful.
14. What is a typical outcome for students at Banyan?
Banyan students achieve their goals in various ways:
- Return to their public school program with supports.
- Graduate from Banyan High School with a diploma and pursue postsecondary education.
- Graduate from Banyan High School with a diploma and pursue career goals.
Our HIB Specialists are:
Erin Wente for the Elementary School
Angela Randion, LCSW for the High School & LIFE Academy
Faculty & Staff
Get in Touch with Banyan