Walbridge School provides an individualized education program that teaches students with learning differences by teaching to their strengths not their weaknesses. Walbridge is a small school environment where students more fully realize their academic, emotional, and social learning potential.
Walbridge School was founded in 1986 by a group of parents and educators with children who had not thrived in their previous schools where they were receiving special education services. The founders and staff developed teaching strategies and curriculum, using the best practices from schools around the country that centered on individualized instruction, multi-sensory teaching, and the use of the Orton-Gillingham approach for reading instruction. The new school was named the Wisconsin Academy of Adaptive Learning, and for the first four years of its operation, it enrolled only students with diagnosed learning disabilities.
With the documented success of small group, individualized, multi-sensory instruction, enrollment was widened to include more “typically developing” children who would benefit from the supportive classroom approach of the school. In 1991, the school’s name was changed to Walbridge Academy to reflect fact that the school enrolled children who learned differently, but perhaps did not have an identified learning disability.
Pleased with the academic and social progress of their children, parents requested that our school provide a Grades 6-8 middle school program for students. A new, carefully constructed six-through-eighth grade curriculum was developed, building on the individualized, small group instruction used in lower grades. The first middle school students were enrolled in the fall of 1994, and this program has been very successful in providing effective academic and social skill instruction in a safe and affirming learning environment. Our name was changed to Walbridge School in 2003 to better reflect the comprehensive educational curriculum provided to students who develop typically, but learn differently, and for those who thrive in a supportive and affirming environment in a small school setting.
While most of our students were successful in making the transition to public or private high school, a small number found it difficult to learn in a large educational environment that felt crowded and often chaotic to them, and lacked the level of individual support necessary for their learning. To meet the needs of these children, Walbridge School piloted a high school transition program in partnership with the Madison and Middleton School Districts in 2010. This program has evolved into a high school diploma program that offers accredited online academic content as a curricular platform. In keeping with the school’s mission, the high school program remains individualized, and students learn in small groups with the personal attention and support of teaching staff. Admission into the program is highly selective, based largely on the applicant’s desire to learn and work, regardless of current achievement levels.