Situated in South Wales, New York, The Gow School is a college-prep boarding and day school for students with dyslexia and similar language-based learning disabilities. Beginning its journey in 1926, Gow was the first school dedicated to dyslexics in the US. Since then, the primary purpose of The Gow School has been to maintain and operate as an independent, not-for-profit school for the education of students, grades 6-12, using the college-preparatory curriculum with emphasis on the remediation of dyslexia and related language-based learning difficulties through Reconstructive Language.
In addition, The Gow School follows the pillars of Kindness, Honesty, Respect, and Hard Work, which are implemented daily throughout the School. Due to its continued commitment to its mission and values, The Gow school has successfully maintained its position as an internationally renowned leader and innovator in dyslexia education.
The Founding Story
The Gow School is the brainchild of the visionary founder, Peter Gow, Jr, a seasoned educator with over 20 years of experience in teaching. Having previously taught at Choate Rosemary Hall, Nichols School, and The Park School, Gow became concerned that many intelligent students were encountering academic difficulties, especially with print language. In 1922, Gow purchased an old horse barn in South Wales, NY, and opened a summer camp for boys who struggled in school. Four years later, The Gow School was established for boys who struggled with dyslexia in this converted barn.
Shortly after the school opened, Gow met Dr. Samuel T. Orton, the pioneering neurologist whose research pointed to a phonetic approach to educating those suffering from “specific language disabilities.” Through thousands of hours of teaching and experimentation, Gow developed the Reconstructive Language (RL) program, similar to the Orton-Gillingham method, and is still used at the School to great effect.
Over time, The Gow School has continued to evolve and innovate. In 1990, the coed Gow School Summer Program began, and in January 2012, the School decided to become coed, offering day and boarding options. Nevertheless, RL remains the foundation of the school’s curriculum, kept current with the latest technology, and validated by ongoing research. A growing cadre of loyal and grateful alumni with a wealth of success stories speaks to the success of Peter Gow, Jr.’s dream.
State-of-the-Art Infrastructure & Facilities
The campus of The Gow School is spread across 125 acres in South Wales, NY, about 45 minutes South of Niagara Falls. There are 33 buildings with approximately 400,000 square feet of roofed spaces. Responding to many dyslexics’ talents in creative, hands-on, and visual-spatial areas, Gow created a facility to enhance its already strong programs in science, technology, and research (STAR). The building houses classrooms, an engineering lab, a seminar space, and a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) vertical milling machine and simulators 10-ton press that can bend titanium Armor, pro lathe. The CNC machine enables robotics students to create more complex robots for the BotsIQ competition.
Furthermore, other technology benefits are evident in Gow-life, including technology-rich courses, such as graphic design, broadcast journalism, and videography; the innovative flipped classroom employed by several teachers; and Microsoft Teams chats between students and their families. Everywhere, the use of technology is driven by the curriculum and an understanding of student needs and interests.
An Exceptional Boarding School Experience
Boarding students make up about 90% of Gow’s population. This is so because boarding at Gow gives the students a unique advantage; they not only have access to everything on campus 24-7 but are also exposed to Gow’s structure both in the classroom and in the dorms and on the weekend.
When it comes to boarding support, all of Gow’s seven dorms are equipped with a dorm parent or parents, depending on the dorm size. Right from getting up in the morning to keeping quiet after the lights out, inside as well as in the classrooms, the dorm parents are triple threats, they teach, coach, and live right on the campus. Moreover, every dorm has several student leaders called Resident Assistants (R. A’s) who are there to show the students the rope and are thought to be the proper example of what a Govian should be like. Additionally, parents are kept in the loop while their students are on campus with frequent video messages, phone calls, and social media. “We believe in a no-surprise policy at Gow and keeping the parents in the loop helps with that,” shares Meghan Mileham, Assistant Director of Admissions, Branding, Communications, and Marketing at The Gow School.
Curriculum Based on Current Research & Supported by Leading-edge Technology
At the heart of Gow’s curriculum is Reconstructive Language (RL), its Orton-based language remediation program. Gow’s content area courses utilize its students’ strengths while remediating their weaknesses. Multisensory instruction, executive function skills, and study strategies are emphasized throughout all courses. Faculty members receive ongoing training in methods that maximize student learning potential and are committed to providing individualized attention and extra help. Gow teachers know that students’ success in the classroom depends on them understanding their student’s language-based learning disabilities.
Besides, dynamic and leading-edge technology at Gow is developed for the benefit of students and selected for its appropriateness rather than its trendiness. It is then integrated throughout the curriculum and the campus, providing a unified platform that allows teachers and students to connect seamlessly. What students use and how much they use depends on what works best for them. Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech-to-text, Kurzweil text-to-speech, and Inspiration concept-mapping software are the most often used tools that level the playing field for students with learning disabilities. Along with other assistive programs, they help with reading and writing remediation and other subjects, where they remove language-based impediments to learning.
Executive Function Coaching: Temporary Coaching, Permanent Results
Students with language-based learning differences often have difficulty with executive functioning: neurologically-based skills like organization, time management, planning, self-discipline, task initiation, and follow-through, which together help individuals manage their lives. As part of Gow’s commitment to rethinking the learning process, the School teaches executive function skills throughout the school experience. However, some students need extra help. For them, Gow offers Executive Functions Coaching (EFC), where its participants typically start and finish fast. Though working on executive function skills is a lifelong process, students who invest themselves see results quickly.
In addition to improving their life-management skills, students take a learning styles inventory and discuss self-advocacy with their coach. It all contributes to the development of independence and confidence in their lives. No wonder many Gow alumni cite the role of strengthened executive functioning in college and career success.
A High College Acceptance Rate
The Gow College Advising Center offers a comprehensive, individualized program to assist students and their families as they apply to college and transition from high school. The center puts its emphasis on student empowerment in the process. The College Advising Staff, on the other hand, supports each student in creating and polishing the materials needed for a successful college application. In this way, students learn to be responsible, take charge of deadlines and documents, and seek assistance from the family members and Gow’s staff as resources. This approach gives them ownership and a sense of control over their destinies. Owing to this, 100% of the seniors are accepted into world-renowned colleges year after year, usually receiving several offers.
Prestigious Awards and Accolades
The Gow School is accredited by the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS). Moreover, Gow’s Reconstructive Language program is accredited by The International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) and meets the International Dyslexia Association (IDA)’s Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. Likewise, The Gow School is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS), The College Board, The Independent Curriculum Group, and the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA).
Roadmap to the Future
In July 2023, Mr. John Munroe will serve as the next Head of The Gow School. He has begun getting to know Gow the best way possible, meeting with Gow families and alumni. Under his leadership, The Gow School will continue to help students with language-based learning differences develop the skills and confidence to succeed in higher education and beyond as creative, compassionate adults and engaged citizens.
For More Info: https://www.gow.org/