Empowering students with language-based learning differences
Why Families Choose Siena
Siena provides an unparalleled educational program specializing in students with mild to moderate language-based learning differences, like dyslexia. Siena's faculty and staff works together to create a nurturing environment that inspires, encourages, and challenges our students. What makes Siena unique? Interested in learning more about how Siena teaches tools and strategies to build on student strengths? Let's get in touch!
Siena’s reading teachers daily address the five essential areas of reading instruction (phonemic awareness, decoding, comprehension, fluency, vocabulary) through multisensory instruction in flexible student groupings. Reading teachers work to strengthen student auditory and visual memory in reading and spelling through structured exercises using movement to learn and remember new words and develop their sense of directionality (helping to read and spell from left to right). Groups and instructions are regularly adapted and changed to best meet student needs and challenge them as they progress.
This approach is beneficial for all children learning to read but is essential for our students.
Siena maintains a 10:1 student-teacher ratio across all courses. Due to our small class sizes, teachers can personally engage every student and adapt curriculum materials to meet their learning styles.
Small class sizes also foster more positive collaboration, encouraging empathy and respect.
Siena's staff understands that everyone learns differently. We incorporate hands-on, multi-sensory methods in every classroom to ensure our students are engaging with the curriculum. Our teachers are firm believers in authentic assessments. Our students are asked to demonstrate mastery of material through real-world tasks and meaningful applications of their knowledge.
All of our teachers receive training from our reading instructors, ensuring that students receive reading and language instruction reinforcement throughout the entire school day. They collaborate to include cross-curricular topics and themes, helping students build a greater understanding of material.
Classes are often discussion-based, allowing students to communicate ideas in a collaborative and encouraging environment. Technology is integrated across all classrooms, and students have access to Chromebooks and tools/apps that aid them in organizing their ideas and expressing them fully. Study skills are introduced in the classroom, and students have the opportunity to practice preparing for assessments with teacher guidance.
While we have a rigorous college preparation academic program at Siena, we also recognize the importance of building students' self-confidence and encouraging their areas of strength and interest.
Siena offers a wide range of arts classes including studio art, digital photography, music, makers space, and drama. Teachers incorporate flexible projects and assignments into their curriculum, allowing students to design creative solutions to meet the requirements.
Students have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of STEM-focused classes, clubs, and activities throughout the school year. From learning how to build a computer in Technology Club to participating in our annual Hour of Code, students across all grade levels master technological skills and explore computer science-related topics.
Regardless of students' areas of strength and interest, Siena provides ample opportunities for all students to become leaders. 4th-12th graders can participate in athletics, student government, service learning, and drama productions. A myriad of 8th period clubs allow students to focus on extra-curricular interests during the school day. Students are encouraged to spearhead new clubs and activities, allowing every student's voice to be heard in the school community.
Siena incorporates first-hand experiences to make learning come alive. Our students take cross-curricular field trips and are visited by a number of engaging guest speakers throughout the year. Some of our past experiential opportunities have included traveling to:
- Local art museums, theaters, and musical venues (e.g. a middle school trip to see Synetic Theater’s movement-based version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night after reading the play and acting out scenes in the classroom);
- The Supreme Court of the United States to hear oral arguments in addition to visits with former clerks of Supreme Court justices to prepare for High School Mock Trial;
- The National Zoo to examine organisms interacting with their various environments in connection with a unit on ecology; and
- The Baltimore Shock Trauma Center to see real-life applications of the sciences and learn about medical career paths from nurses and doctors.
In addition to monthly outings/speakers, Siena provides a number of additional experiential learning opportunities:
- Every year, our high school students participate in 2-week internships that help them explore career interests, meet professional mentors, and practice career skills;
- Students take part in our annual Stewardship Day activities; and
- Students participate in a number of school-based service learning projects and programs throughout the year.
At Siena, we emphasize the importance of having a balanced life. We implement a homework schedule to ensure that students have a predictable and manageable amount of nightly homework. All of our students use the Siena Planner to stay organized and keep on top of long-term deadlines.
By teaching them to organize materials and self-advocate, we empower our students to have the time they need in the evenings for extra-curricular, social, and family activities.
Siena provides in-depth college advising. Parents and students receive general information on the college process throughout their time at Siena and receive advice about high school coursework that will best prepare them for college.
Individual family meetings take place during a student's 11th grade year, with a goal of helping students explore a variety of colleges and universities that offer support for students with learning differences. We also partner with college placement consultants to support families in the college search, and to help students find a good match with the proper support upon enrollment. Time is set aside for 11th and 12th graders to visit schools, and a number of college representatives meet with Siena students at Siena.
Our College Counselor goes above and beyond the four years of high school to assist with the transition to college, advising students how to set up accommodations for themselves, helping them collect and organize their high school course materials, and checking in with them during their first year of college.
To qualify for a medical expense deduction, a doctor must make a diagnosis and recommend Siena.
There are other related expenses that could contribute to your deduction -- consult with a tax advisor to find out more.
We know that strong communication and collaboration among students, families, teachers, and administrators is paramount to our students' success. We communicate with families throughout the school year in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:
- Weekly e-newsletters
- Weekly course preview emails from teachers
- Parent-Advisor phone calls each quarter
- Parent-Teacher conferences each semester
- ParentSquare: a web and smartphone app used for mass communications (emails, texts, notifications, calendar events, sign ups and photo/file sharing)
At Siena, we focus on the full education of each student in and outside of the school walls. We encourage our students to go above and beyond their responsibilities in the classroom in order to become productive and responsible members of the community.
From day one, we encourage students to self-advocate. We give them the tools and strategies to succeed, and encourage them to speak up about what works best for them. We stress independence and accountability across all levels at Siena, which fosters a culture of mutual respect.
Every student agrees to a code of conduct when they join the Siena community. All Siena students are expected to follow the 3 R's of conduct: to make the right choices based on respect and responsibility.