Lessons for Life – Javier’s Story

Junior high school can be a difficult period under the best of circumstances. For Javier Santos, 7th grade was plagued with family issues, bouts of anxiety and challenges that come with transitioning from one school to another. “I was nervous and defiant, and I wasn’t in a good place,” said Javier, who initially attended a public middle school in Bristol. “I needed to be in a different environment.”

Javier’s family considered alternatives before enrolling him in Wheeler’s Northwest Village School (NVS). “I was afraid at first,” said Javier. “But when I got to know the teachers and staff, I quickly realized that this place was helping me out. My perspectives began to change. This school became a second home for me.”

Northwest Village School serves special education students (K-12+) with complex mental health, social, emotional, and behavioral challenges. Academic instruction is provided in a supportive, state-of-the-art learning environment that is staffed with highly trained special education teachers, clinicians and paraprofessionals. Our relationally-based and trauma-informed approach fosters interpersonal growth, and provides opportunities for individualized skill development. Wheeler’s teachers bring an array of subjects to life in a sensory-sensitive environment that includes engaging classrooms, innovative tools for learning, cutting-edge technology, pre-vocational programming, and opportunities to engage in recreational and creative activities in the school’s gym and performance space. Comprehensive behavioral health and other clinical services are provided by a team of psychologists, social workers, family therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, nurses, and psychiatrists.

Javier remained at NVS through 12th grade, and he graduated in 2017. He characterizes his experience as one of the best in his life. While in school, he enjoyed history, explored culinary arts and received therapy to address challenges, while benefitting from some very practical lessons, too. “Our teachers showed us how to navigate the transportation system, how to prepare for our driver’s test, and how to interview for a job, all great lessons for life.”

Today, Javier attends the American Institute in West Hartford, where he studies customer relations and computer networking technology. “The teachers and staff at NVS gave us many experiences and opportunities to make a difference in the world,” he said. “My biggest takeaway is that despite your challenges, you still can succeed, and best of all, there are really kind, patient people who will help you get there.”

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