Deron School enlightens Montclair students.
The Deron School is a home of inspiration that ignites an individual’s aspiration, with warmest regards to their limits. The school does not dote on one’s disability, but rather attentively attracts attention to their strengths that could make them limitless.
At 8:20 a.m. the first bell sounds and students are to report to their scheduled classrooms, whether that is math, science, language arts, gym or an elective class. The Deron School is a haven of a promising academic life that fine-tunes a regular middle or high school schedule towards the needs of its thriving students.
“[If you] took Ron and took Diane, you get Deron,” Ron Alter explained about a name that ensues the passion and commitment by a team of two that came together to start it all.
Ron and Diane Alter founded the school in 1967 when they recognized a need for a school that specialized in educating deaf children. Because they were so successful in their structured schedule to suit the needs of their students, they were able to open their doors to individuals with multiple learning disabilities. With a growth in their student body, it was necessary to expand their space, and so they did, 10 times the space of the prior location. However, the school was not settled. As building renters, they had to move, but their students moved with them, and their dream flourished when they won a bid on a building they can now call home.
The Deron School has two locations: one in Union, N.J. and the second to luckily reside in Montclair. The private schools accommodate more than 260 students, educating those aged 5-21 with various learning disabilities.
The Deron School has a certified staff of teachers, three social workers, two speech therapists, an occupational therapist and a physical therapist, a full-time nurse and two physical education teachers. Suiting the family feel, the school is a family affair as family members Eric, Kenneth and Lori join Ron and Diane to keep their schools a success.
The school develops the whole student. There is not a focus on fixing their lack of a certain skill, but rather fostering academic, emotional and social growth as seamlessly as possible, with the integration of programs to meet their specific needs. Individualized student-centered instruction is based on New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards within small classes. A high teacher-to-student ratio allows for opportunities to explore a students’ talent or interest, such as art, music, sports or cooking.
The school drives each student forward with positive reinforcements. Rather than dwelling on a poor situation, they focus on motivating their students to grow individually with behavior cards. Cards are color-coordinated and indicate positive behavior. When a student showcases positive behavior, they can earn a white, yellow, orange or green card. Each card indicates a step towards achieving better behavior and a step up in their rewards, such as earning a snack, a bowling trip, free time or a monthly movie.
The school does not stop with education. Their students can be placed in a transition program that gives them real work experience while in school. Depending on the student’s interests or abilities, they can work part-time in food service, retail, medical, day-care or eldercare industries. This year, the Deron School is pleased to have 40 students working shifts on different days at the Gates Manor in Montclair, Shop Rite and the hospital.
Positive energy was felt in that building. Friendly faces walked the halls (with a hall pass) and creativity was hung throughout the hallways. The Deron School is an educational location for children, but it is an ever-expanding achievement of the Alters who lovingly showed me their home.
Keep up to date with the Deron School’s upcoming events at The Montclair Dispatch and the seasonal newsletter the Deron School puts out thanks to Studio042!