Award Year: 2019

Downey School

250 Downey Street
Westwood, MA, 02090-2034

(781) 326-7500

Ms. Debra Lynne Gallagher, Principal at time of Nomination

Westwood School District

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At Downey School, we believe that all students are capable of learning and reaching their potential. We also believe that the emotional well being of students is critical in order for students to access learning.

Student Demographics
  • Black/African American: 1%
  • White: 72%
  • Hispanic: 4%
  • Asian: 18%
  • Native American: 1%
  • Two or more races: 4%
The first day of the 2019-2020 school year

The first day of the 2019-2020 school year

Downey School is a K-5 elementary school in Westwood, Massachusetts. We are the home site for 4 district wide special education programs that support children on the autism spectrum. Meeting the individual needs of all students and providing an inclusive setting is no easy feat. We have spent years improving our teaching practice so that students can thrive academically and social emotionally.

One practice that has made it possible to meet the varied student needs and to maximize student growth is the commitment to create and sustain an inclusive environment. The Downey community is thoughtful about how to support students in an inclusive setting. One strategy used to include all students for core instruction was to create a schedule that includes an intervention block that provides a second dose of targeted instruction in a small group setting. Another successful strategy used to promote academic achievement and inclusion was to create a block schedule in a way where core content (Math and ELA) at the differing grade levels is staggered, so that special educators and support staff can be in the classrooms during this time to co-teach and provide 1:1 and small group support to students.

Inclusion at Downey School goes beyond the school hours. The PTO provides accommodations for their events so that all students can access these activities. School sponsored events that take place after school are staffed with special educators to support students when needed.

These inclusion practices have allowed all students and families to feel as though they are a part of the vibrant Downey School community and the data shows that students are growing academically and socially emotionally.