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The Auburn School

Our students come to us with their singular, wonderful minds, their surprising questions, their tentative smiles.

A m o n g F r i e n d s //

Because they are bright, we give them an academic program as challenging as any independent school.

Because they each have their own set of social and communication challenges, we give them a comprehensive research-based social skills program, and we weave social learning into everything they do throughout the day.

Because they are children, we give them our affection and our respect.

Gradually, through countless interactions with teachers who understand how they think and appreciate how they feel—experts who simply enjoy being with them—our children begin to feel an enveloping acceptance. And as their interactions with their teachers and other students become more satisfying, they begin to relax.

Slowly, they absorb the single most important thing they can learn at Auburn: they are among friends. This is the knowledge that adds happiness to their days, laughter to their voices, friends to their lives. This is the knowledge that changes them and opens their future.//

The Auburn School

Growing the social and academic potential of bright students with social and communication challenges


To achieve this mission, The Auburn School:

// Integrates social skills and pragmatic language

development throughout the curriculum and school day using research-based programs and educational best-practices;

// Provides a challenging academic curriculum

tailored to the individual needs of each student;

// Offers a safe, nurturing and highly personalized

learning environment for children through small class sizes, individualized learning plans and a supportive school setting;

// Identifies and develops individual student

strengths, talents and interests; and

// Seeks out, employs and supports the very best

educators and staff.

O u r Stu d e n t s // They see things a little differently. They feel things more intensely. Smart, often extremely bright, they are capable of tremendous focus and of absorbing large amounts of information. They have the cognitive power to succeed in college and challenging careers, and they often have significant social and communication challenges which, if unaddressed will greatly compromise their ability to advance. And so we have designed a school that gives them all the challenge they crave, and the social support they need.


C ho i c e // We founded our school because parents of our children needed a better choice. They have for too long been forced to choose between schools that offered their children a full, challenging academic program and schools which gave them the intense social support they needed. That choice is no longer necessary. Our school addresses both of their needs.

L au g ht e r // We teach our students the rules of conversation and the conventions of social interaction, but we do not teach them to laugh. That is something they find themselves. It comes when their minds are delighted by an intellectually sophisticated idea, by an incongruous new fact, or when a new friend makes a joke. It comes when they connect in a novel and pleasing way, and it is the most wonderful sound that can occur here.

app r e c i at i o n // Unseen in their complexity and individuality, unappreciated for the distinctive gifts they have, children can lose themselves in schools that do not address them as who they are. That doesn’t happen here. By being understood, they begin to emerge. In experiencing the joy of connection, they learn to connect. In very small classes, no one falls between the cracks. There are no cracks.

“I can’t tell you the difference with my son. We’ve seen him blossom...from living in his own private world, to this vibrant, lively kid who can’t wait to go to school.” aubu r n pa r e n t //

“The first day for me at Auburn, I saw a lot of different kids; I became friends with pretty much everyone.� aubu r n s tu d e n t //


H app i n e s s // Happiness is not trivial or peripheral at Auburn. Because our children have often been extremely unhappy in their previous schools, and because unhappiness forces them inside of themselves, their happiness is at the center of our work. The result is that children who have never liked coming to school cannot wait for Monday mornings or the first day after vacation.

C hall e n g e // Our academic program is rigorous because our children are bright and thrive on intellectual stimulation. Highly personalized to address the wide range and remarkable depth of our children’s interests, academics at Auburn comprise all the traditional subjects with significant experiential and project-oriented work. The result is children who are deeply engaged, inspired to learn, and fully prepared for future educational experiences.

C u r i o s i ty// Children come to us with uncommon, often narrowly focused curiosity, and so part of our work is to constantly stimulate their minds. But just as crucial, we work to expand the circle of their curiosity. We want them to become curious about the larger world, and about other people, as well, because that is another step toward the engagement that is at the heart of our work.

“I thrive on the creativity needed for this job. I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to create learning opportunities for kids with all different kinds of needs. I enjoy pushing the boundaries of pedagogy.� aubu r n t e ach e r //

“Auburn is the school for people like me!” aubu r n s tu d e n t //

friends// self-advocacy// FUTURE//

F r i e n d s // During their time here, our children make the frightening, exhilarating journey from isolation to connection. Slowly, through false starts and setbacks, with constant guidance and support, they begin to construct for themselves the invisible bridges that connect one person to another. This ability to bond with other people has many names and shows itself in many small ways. We call it “friendship� and nothing here is more important at Auburn.

S e lf - A d v ocacy// The ability of our children to advocate for themselves is critical to their future success. This ability develops at Auburn through the complex interaction of growing self-awareness, strengthening self-confidence, and constantly improving communication abilities. The goal is young people who know themselves, can articulate their needs, and have the ability to enlist others to help them achieve in a world not often designed for them.

F utu r e // We set high goals for our children’s future because we understand their real potential. When they leave Auburn, we expect them to thrive at the next level and throughout their college years. And beyond that, we expect them to succeed in a world desperately in need of the new ideas and fresh perspectives they bring. Ultimately, we want them to become fully independent thinkers and decision-makers who create fulfilling lives made rich through relationship with others.

O u r P r o g r a m // All day, every day our students are immersed in an environment that helps them grow in social and communication skills. The daily social skills lessons are only the beginning. Throughout the rest of the day, we implement a school-wide strategy of positive behavior supports. Whether in math class or at recess, at lunch or simply walking down the hall, our children are surrounded by trained people who use every interaction as an opportunity to help them advance in social skills.

“Auburn works because every day, in everything that they do, our students receive what they need: comprehensive, expert support for social growth that is fully integrated into a best practice academic program. E r i k H e y e r // Founder

To see for yourself the difference Auburn is making in the lives of our students we encourage you to visit our school and observe our students, our classes and our teachers. To get more information about our programs and our approaches, please call the admissions office or visit us online at Auburn Admissions //

“OK, I have to say school rocks! Before I came, I hated school, but not anymore.� A ubu r n s tu d e n t //

“Here I am secure and learning with interest.” aubu r n s tu d e n t //

“This school has done lots of things for me that a public school would have never done.” aubu r n s tu d e n t //

Design: Catalone design Co. // writing: Joe rubino // Photography: Ryan Smith // Printing: Colorcraft of virginia