|Austine School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing|
|Number of students||74|
|Color(s)||Green and White|
In the late 1800s, U.S. Army Colonel William Austine retired to Brattleboro, Vermont. In his will, the Colonel specified a sum of $50,000 to establish a hospital for the treatment of strangers or local residents with extraordinary circumstances. Complying with this wish and under trusteeship, five prominent local citizens incorporated the Austine Institution in 1904. After debate, the Vermont Attorney General, who was also the administrator of the Colonel’s will, prevailed with his suggestion to open a school for blind and deaf students. Support was gained from the Vermont General Assembly to purchase a 200-acre (0.81 km2) farm. In the fall of 1912 the Austine School opened with 16 students.
In 1914, Alexander Graham Bell delivered Austine School’s first commencement address. During the late 1950s and early 60s, the school experienced expansive growth. A new elementary school was added followed by a new high school wing. Soon after, the high school boys' and girls' dormitories were completed. In 1970, the construction of Vermont Hall upgraded the dormitories for the younger children and added administrative offices, a modern kitchen, dining room and health facility.
In 1975 the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed. This legislation greatly impacted how persons with special needs are educated. As public schools began struggling to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students in mainstream classrooms, Austine School leadership increasingly realized that their education expertise and guidance could be invaluable in helping school systems and families achieve their education goals. Thus the Vermont Center was created to provide statewide, location-based support for deaf education through a consulting network. Programs the Austine School had founded over the years to meet the needs of the deaf community beyond the classroom were grouped under the Vermont Center.
With mainstreaming underway, the Austine School recognized a marked increase in the percentage of its students who face multiple physical and education challenges. In response, The William Center was created as a separate school licensed by the Department for Children and Families and housed on the Austine Campus as a residential facility for emotionally disturbed deaf children.
Academics and education philosophy
The Austine School is led by principal Anne Potter and offers residential and day student programs. The elementary school program uses a combination of the Montessori Method, the State of Vermont Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities and the VCDHH curriculum to develop within students the foundation of knowledge, communication proficiency, critical thinking and conflict resolution skill, and a level of maturity to transition into middle school and beyond. The middle and high school continue to focus on the whole student and adhere to curricula based on VFSLO.[clarification needed] Core classes are English, Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, Art, Health, Keyboarding and Physical Education. Electives are provided.
Austine provides specialized classes for students with multiple disabilities or special learning needs. Each student is encouraged to explore and discover the art of independent and collaborative learning. Additional opportunities take place through a Career Exploration class, a Business Education class, work-based learning, vocational assessment and transition planning. High school students participate in Austine's innovative supported onsite learning program at Brattleboro Union High School and may apply to the Southeast Vermont Career Education Center in Brattleboro for courses that develop specific employment skills in 16 fields.
Striving to prepare students for entry to college and career by making learning relevant to everyday life, the school provides a challenging academic program tailored to meet the individual needs of each student. The ultimate goal for every Austine student is to experience a happy, healthy and successful adulthood.
Austine's idyllic campus provides opportunities for a rich student life, ranging from onsite ropes courses, hiking and swimming, and varsity sports, to participation in Deaf Academic Bowl at Gallaudet University. The mascot is the Arrows.
Austine has a vibrant alumni community, many of whom choose to stay in Brattleboro after graduation.
- Austine School Home Page
- Austine page at National Association of Special Education Teachers
- Brattleboro Reformer article about Austine at Alldeaf.com
- "History of Austine". Retrieved 2011-03-23. "after retiring in Brattleboro"