CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — With renovations complete and the paperwork finalized, New Story School in State College is now accepting students with educational and behavioral challenges.
“Centre County really needs services for students with autism and serious emotional disturbances,” says Kaleena Selfridge, special education director at the State College branch. “This is an area where the schools have some difficulty providing safe accommodations for students in schools because they’re not always comfortable or able to integrate with their non-disabled peers in the general education setting.”
In June of 2019, New Story Schools found it’s 15th Pennsylvania location in the former Lemont Elementary School in the State College Area School District.
After the 82 year old school building was acquired, renovations began to meet the needs of special education students.
“A place that is safe and welcoming for our students, often requires that we change the footprint of the building a bit,” says Angela O’Brein, regional clinical director for New Story. “We needed to create a steam lab, we needed sensory rooms and multiple therapy rooms.”
The school can teach up to 50 students with about 10 to 15 staff members.
On a typical day, students ages five through 21 will work through academic subjects, life skills, and creative free time. Schedules may be custom to the needs of each individual.
“If there’s a need for therapies throughout the day, that’s scheduled in,” says Selfridge. “If there’s a need for sensory breaks, as many of our students will require, that gets factored into their day as well.”
For Selfridge, this isn’t just an opportunity to serve Centre County, but also a life passion.
“I’m also a parent of two children with special needs and although both of my children are in slightly more traditional classroom settings, I understand how difficult the process is and I’m so excited to serve families and students with the needs that we can meet here at New Story,” says Selfridge.
New Story School received their license this past Friday, allowing them to start accepting referrals from school districts.
Staff says students may be in the halls as soon as early February.