Fueling empowered learners and compassionate communities through the science of being human.
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What gifts will you unlock?

 

Cajal Academy empowers bright and twice-exceptional kids to optimize their own learning, social and emotional outcomes through data-driven, personalized educational programs for the “whole human.”

 

Cajal Academy is a new, nonprofit independent school in Fairfield County, CT offering a new educational alternative, including

  • Data-driven, individualized programs integrating neuropsychology and neurophysiology into the classroom

  • Support for complex learning social and medical profiles, including dyslexia, ADHD, sensory processing disorder and neurological, immunological and musculoskelatal differences impacting learning

  • Kinesthetic, “Body-Informed Learning” integrated into the classroom

  • A mix of core skills classes and cross-disciplinary, project-based learning integrating academic, social, emotional and physio learning

  • Personalized strategies to help each child self-monitor, self-manage and self-advocate for their needs

  • Small, mixed-age classes

Cajal Academy launched a pilot program in spring 2019 and is accepting applications on a rolling basis for an expanded pilot program for the 2019-2020 school year.

 
School shouldn’t just be a place where we learn to read, write and do math. It should be a place where we learn to be our best selves, so we can determine our own futures in the world that is yet to be.
— Cheryl Viirand, Cajal Academy Co-Founder
 

We are redesigning education from the ground up, using the neuroscience that informs our learning, social and emotional experiences.

Tremendous advances have been made in the fields of neuropsychology, human health and our understanding of the myriad, complex ways in which our basic physiology informs our social, emotional and learning outcomes—yet these advances have yet to make their way into the hands of the educators who can use them to move our children forward. We aim to change that.

 
 
 
 

We create personalized, data-driven educational programs leveraging each child’s core learning strengths, to unlock their gifts.

Each child’s program starts with a deep dive into the individual cognitive, auditory processing, social, sensory, executive function and other skills that combine to influence our learning and life-lived experiences.

With this data, we develop personalized instructional strategies that present new content through each learner’s strongest learning skills, while accommodating for any areas of weakness — and then pair those with strategic therapeutic interventions and games to improve on those weaknesses (from postural support to phonological processing) through the principal of neuroplasticity.

 

 

 

We empower children to start living their best lives today, through “whole human” education.

Our mission is not just to deliver academic learning but to empower each child to change their life-lived experiences at each stage of their development. Our curriculum integrates learning across six core pillars, including Scholarship, Social & Communication, Emotional Health, Body Sense and Community & Leadership. These come together through Agency: executive function skills and personalized strategies each child can use to self-monitor, self-manage and self-advocate at each stage of their developmental process.

Integrated into every subject from math to music, we share the neuroscience behind our experiences, giving each child an innate sense of the neuro-cognitive skills being called upon. This gives them the perspective they need both to be resilient in the face of their own individual challenges, to take the risks required to grow and to better understand peers whose challenges differ from their own. In this way, we are building a community of learners who can be compassionate towards themselves and towards others.

 
 

 

Instead of fighting kids’ need to move, we’re redesigning the classroom to leverage it as a powerful learning tool.

Research shows that using movement and sensory input in learning activities literally increases the number of neurons involved in the process, with measurable impacts for learning outcomes. We are re-designing the classroom experience from the ground up to leverage children’s bodies as powerful learning tools—not fight them—through our Body-Informed Learning, combining research-backed strategies that have long been employed in therapeutic settings with the emerging field of “embodied learning.” From obstacle courses to reduced sensory rooms, on-site OT and PT expertise in how children’s bodies enhance or hinder their learning, social and emotional experiences informs every element of our program, and the classroom experience will be fluidly tailored to each child’s sensory and movement needs. We share the science behind our approach with our learners, giving them practical strategies they can use in any setting to monitor, regulate and advocate for their needs.

We also integrate one-to-one and small group Therapeutic Intensives into the program for those children who require additional support for sensory processing disorder, fine and gross motor planning, organization, visual processing, handwriting support, musculoskelatal disorders, hypotonia, neuropathy and similar diagnoses. We are the first private school in Fairfield County, CT to meet the needs of bright and gifted children requiring an OT- or PT-supported program, or to meet the needs of hyperkinetic children, for whom movement is essential to their availability to learn.

 
 

 

We combine cross-disciplinary project learning and a mastery-based approach to allow each learner the runway they need to explore their passions and develop their gifts.

We understand that all bright and gifted children need to be challenged, regardless of any diagnoses or learning differences, and that they need runway to explore and develop their talents within a supportive community environment. Our small class sizes and high teacher to student ratio allow us to create a safe environment within which each child can explore their gifts and confront their challenges. We start with the assumption that our learners will be asynchronous in their learning development, and use a mastery-based approach to content and specific skill development alike, allowing each child to go as far and as fast as is right for her. We are taking cross-disciplinary project based learning to the next level, by including our therapeutic specialists directly in the project design phase and in the classroom, to ensure that each child has the expertise and coaching they need to experience their best selves throughout the learning process. We pair this with content-based, core skills classes allowing us to dig deep in subjects like math and on learning challenges like dyslexia and expressive language.

 
 

 

All our learners will enjoy the benefits of the no-ceiling learning, personalization and expertise that twice exceptional learners need.

Cajal Academy is the first private school in Fairfield County to invite “mainstream” children to a level of data-driven, individualized programming and therapeutic expertise that is usually inaccessible outside of the special needs community. As we grow, we are committed to building a community that is not only inclusive, but where children are explicitly taught to value and foster diversity of thought and experience, and to recognize and celebrate one another’s gifts.

 
 
 

Our Philosophy

We are re-designing education from the ground up, based on 5 guiding principals:

 
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Children should go as far and as fast as their passions and curiosity will take them, without some artificial ceiling getting in the way.

All children benefit from learning in a diverse and inclusive environment

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How we teach each child should be as individualized as their neuropsychological & neurophysiological profiles.

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Children learn best when they’re using their bodies as another learning modality, not fighting them.

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Teaching children the science that informs how they think, feel and act empowers them to create their own best futures & builds

empathetic communities of learners.

 

 

What’s in a name…

An inspiring story, and the basis for all we do as an organization—and as humans.

Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934)

Santiago Ramon y Cajal (1852-1934)

Cajal Academy is named in honor of Santiago Ramon y Cajal (pronounced “Ka-hall”), the Spanish neuroscientist and artist whose “rebellious” nature created a difficult childhood—but led him to receive a Nobel Prize in 1906 for discovering how the brain and central nervous system work. Find out more about this inspiring, “twice exceptional” man, his art and the scientific basis for all we do as a school, as an organization dedicated to scientifically-informed educational innovation, and as humans.

 
 

 

Cajal Academy launched with a pilot program in the spring of 2019. We are now accepting applications for an expanded program in the 2019-2020 school year—contact us today to find out if Cajal Academy would be the right fit to help unlock your child’s gifts!