Former student opens school for special needs students

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: August 03, 2006

Texas A&M University graduate Melissa Larson, lead teacher and program director of The Network School, a new venture in Houston, is helping students succeed in life by coping with special needs – both physical and mental.

Larson, who received her B.S. in interdisciplinary studies and her M.Ed. in educational psychology from Texas A&M, and University of Houston Professor Faiza Khoja founded The Network School to provide a holistic program designed specifically for children with special needs.

“We strongly believe that children with special needs can lead a healthy and productive life,” Larson said, “but ‘right’ and ‘timely’ intervention is the key.”

The Network School has been in operation since March 2006 and implements each of the five major functional areas based on the individual child’s need. These include language, social, cognitive, academic and behavior areas. As part of the objective to provide a holistic and consistent learning experience, the school provides speech, occupational and physical therapy in-house.

Larson says the highly experienced and well-trained therapists of Children’s Therapy Co-Op provide one-on-one therapies after school. In addition, the therapists, lead teacher, and assistants collaborate with each other to address the child’s individual goals. Larson explains that the school does not have specific age requirements. Instead, she says the school tries to accommodate all ages and disabilities, adding that the greatest need is found among those children who are past the early intervention stage but not at the next level cognitively.

“We are here to meet the needs of those students who may have limited or no verbal communication and who may have physical limitations that hinder them in other settings,” Larson motes.

She adds that as The Network School continues to grow, she would like to open more locations in Houston and across the state. One goal of the school is to keep the student/teacher ratio low while also meeting the social, cognitive and communication needs of the students. Larson says another important goal is maintaining a warm, close environment at each location while providing access to future locations.

“Our greatest accomplishment has been providing a safe, fun and cognitively challenging environment for students whose needs may be considered challenging in other academic settings,” Larson said. “Each student is unique and we are blessed to have the ability to meet the needs of these amazing children.”

The Network School goes one step further – providing parents and caregivers with the necessary resources and guidance to assist their child at home.

“Our end goal is for our students to independently function in society to the best of their ability by utilizing the skills we have taught them,” Larson said. “The students are bright and have this amazing will to function in settings outside the classroom. We get laughs and smiles that let us know they enjoy their time with us.”