The Henry Viscardi School is a dynamic program of The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profit organizations, providing a lifespan of services that educate, employ and empower people with disabilities. Its programs and services include Pre-K through High School and Post-secondary education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities, and workforce diversification assistance to businesses.
The Viscardi Center, located on Long Island, was founded in 1952 by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities, who himself wore prosthetic legs and served as disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter.
The Henry Viscardi School is a private, New York State supported 4201 school founded in 1962 that offers parents of children with severe physical disabilities and who often require life-sustaining medical treatment throughout the day, a traditional educational setting that provides academics and opportunities for personal growth and leadership development. Its specialized, accessible educational setting provides a fully enriched academic program, a variety of therapies, assistive technology and medical supports to students who may otherwise need to receive instruction in their homes or a hospital.
The school provides a nurturing environment to students in grades Pre-K – 12th grade, and a skilled professional presence for the growth and development of the students. It is a place inspired by the motto, “Reach for a Star,” and a school where seriously challenged boys and girls learn to thrive, flourish and joyfully interact with other children and adults.
Most students at the Henry Viscardi School use power wheelchairs and augmentative communication technology, and some require medical supervision. The student body represents a wide variety of conditions including Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis, Spina Bifida, Traumatic Brain Injury, Osteogenesis Imperfecta and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Although the students’ primary disabilities are physical, their range of complexity varies, as secondary or tertiary disabilities are often factors that influence teaching and learning.
A teaching community dedicated to empowering students, HVS offers a combination of core academics and robust cultural enrichment that enables them to be active, independent, self-sufficient participants in society. It encourages students to take chances, be bold, act like leaders and give back to their communities.
For a detailed description of the school’s programming, visit the website at http://www.viscardicenter.org/services/henry-viscardi-school.
The position of Head of School is an all-encompassing one in that the leader will be required to oversee all of the operations of the school. S/he will be an entrepreneurial thinker, one who can see the excellence now in place, and be able to enhance the overall efficacy of the school. Working in partnership with the talented faculty, professional support staff and the leadership of the Center, the next Head will be a person who will provide strong educational and instructional leadership – a leader who sees the wonderful potential in each and every student.
The next Head will serve as the school’s overall advocate, and liaise with federal, state and local agencies, including the New York State Education Department, Legislature, 4201 School Association, and other organizations. S/he will provide oversight of all school operations, in compliance with federal, state and local regulations.
The school seeks a highly visible leader, one who will interact regularly and genuinely with students, parents and those who serve the students.
Challenges & Opportunities for the Next Head of School
The next Head will need and want to:
- Act as the school’s ambassador with the various regulatory agencies, which oversee the school’s funding, licensing and operations.
- In concert with the Center’s leadership, is a passionate spokesperson for the school’s advocacy and philanthropic endeavors.
- Ensure the effectiveness of “whole child planning” by working to integrate the efforts of the academic faculty and the many members of the therapeutic and support staff.
- Review and analyze the administrative structure to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of operations.
- Oversee the ongoing review of curriculum and instruction, with particular emphasis on the needs of the growing number of cognitively challenged students at the school.
- Ensure that the parents continue to be seen as true partners in the education of the children.
- Further enhance the school as a true community for learning.
Maintain and enhance the professional development of all who work at the school — ensuring meaningful evaluation, accountability and professional growth.