Samara Learning Center's
Academic Programs

The Samara Day School (SDS) is an alternative independent

school for students needing a small school setting and

individualized education plan. Our head teachers are trained in

working with kids at different grade and academic levels, learning

approaches to help those with learning disabilities (dyslexia...), and

build executive functioning skills . We provide multi-modal,

multi-disciplinary, and individualized research-based programs that

facilitate strengthening and compensatory strategies for a child’s

area of need while providing opportunities for the child to discover

and build upon their strengths. SDS embodies the concept of

appropriate education from the federal Individual Disability Education

Act (IDEA) and Oregon’s definition of an Alternative Education Program, “a school or separate class group designed to best serve students’ educational needs and interests and assist students in achieving the academic standards of the school district and the state.” (ORS 336.615-336.665.)  Most students will attend the Samara Day School for 2-4 years and then mainstream back to other schools. Currently, we are only taking students from 1st-8th grade, but SDS will be growing to a K-12 school. If interested in a HIGH SCHOOL  program, we have some plans in the works, so please contact us for an update.  SDS is an innovative and integrated curriculum, coupled with small class size and high teacher to student ratio, enables students to experience academic success.  The fundamental areas of learning include:

•    Academic achievement: reading, writing, and mathematical skills

•    College preparatory courses

•    Critical thinking, reasoning, problem-solving and test-taking strategies

•    Daily emphasis on executive functioning skills, such as organization of binder, use of a planner, utilization of resources,

     and proactively asking clarification questions.

•    Daily emphasis on building successful attributes: self-awareness, proactivity, perseverance, goal-setting, support systems,

     and emotional coping strategies (Based on the Marianne Frostig Center’s longitudinal study)  

•    Integration of social development skills, such as communication, building one’s awareness of the impact of one’s actions

     (like the volume and grandness of movement of one’s fidgets) on those around, and pragmatic language development

•    Elective programs including art, music, computer science, and athletics

Based on each student’s learning profile, an individual instruction plan (IIP) is designed to maximize his/her learning. This instructional plan incorporates best practices, which are based on current research, and is re-assessed on an ongoing basis. Learning comes alive through classroom and small group participatory, interactive, hands-on, multisensory instruction in a stimulating and motivating environment. SDS students will be given the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential, prepare for post-secondary education and experience success in the workplace.  

Upper Elementary and Middle School

The SDS upper elementary program is for 4th - 5th graders.  The SDS middle school program is for 6th-8th graders.  The classes in these programs are departmentalized with language arts being the student’s homeroom class.  The students are in various combinations of peer groups as they transition between language arts, math, social studies, science, elective classes, and physical education. They will receive grades on a trimester system along with a brief general weekly progress report emailed (hard copy if requested) to parents/guardians. Grades are based on class participation and performance on homework, class work, quizzes, tests, and projects within the modified curriculum.


Taught by experienced and educated teachers in their fields of expertise, the elective courses provide an opportunity for the students to further explore areas of strengths, interests, and possible career paths. 


SDS students will have physical education 4 days a week, introducing activities to students in small groups. Physical education can play a big part in the development of our students not only physically, but socially as well.  Middle school athletics will be scheduled for the afternoon, so those that are dual enrolled for PE at their home school will not miss academic classes.

Student Activities

SDS believes that a good education involves much more than just providing a strong academic program.  Our students will learn by doing and will be given the opportunity to participate in various non-academic activities, which support and enrich their classroom experiences. Some of these activities include; field trips, overnight trips, athletics, the arts, Student Council, interest clubs, school dances, and community service. These activities, combined with the academic program of SDS, will provide our students the tools to develop into well-rounded, social young people who are ready for life beyond school.

Success Attributes

An increasing amount of research is proving that IQ or S.A.T. scores are not key predictors of success in adulthood; that personal attributes, such as perception and type of motivation are the more reliable factors to predict likelihood of success.  The Samara Day School wants to support the growth of academic skills with our students, but knows that if a child learns to persevere even if life is a challenge, proactively find a resource to answer his/her question, and sets high yet manageable, accessible goals, that those skills are the more likely factors that may lead them to mature, successful adulthood.  The impact of a community using a common language of success, in explicit lessons and teachable moments, is significant.  To foster the students’ future success at SDS, we base our common language on the longitudinal (over 20 years) research done at the Frostig Center in Pasadena by Goldberg, R. J., Higgins, E. L., Raskind, M. H., & Herman, K. L. (2003)  Frostig is a school for students with learning disabilities that has been open for over 60 years, and during the research, they discovered that those students who developed into successful adults often had attributes in common.  Frostig’s findings were formed into the “Success Attributes.”  

·      Self-Awareness

·      Proactivity

·      Perseverance

·      Goal-Setting

·      Presence and Use of Support Systems

·      Emotional Coping Strategies

See more at:

Social Skills

SDS believes that students show the most growth when they are provided with a safe, predictable, and structured learning environment.  Along with their academic challenges, a number of our students may have social challenges, such as with: impulsivity, noticing and interpreting non-verbal cues, drawing inferences, and pragmatics. The teaching staff incorporates social skills in direct lessons; integrate them in curriculum and through teachable moments.  The development of the success attribute self-awareness is essential, but many of the other attributes also come into play.  The curriculum focuses on building:

•    Responsibility: awareness of and culpability of how one’s words and actions have an impact on others as well as themselves.

•    Social initiation and response skills: awareness in knowing when, how, and if one should initiate/respond. 

•    Getting along with others: working within a group, sharing, and taking turns.

Dual Enrollment

Dual-enrollment options are available to our students at SDS.   One of the main goals of SDS is to guide our students to a beneficial transition into a mainstream school or a vocational program. Organization of the dual enrollment is done through a team of the student’s parents/guardians, SDS administration, and the other school.  Some of the factors to consider are: travel time, class schedules, credits, students’ benefits for dual enrollment, etc.  If dual enrollment is decided to be added to the child’s education program, that student will usually attend SDS during the morning and enroll in one to three classes at an alternative school in the afternoon.


Teachers will assign homework based on the student’s individual level.  Usually, assignments are those that can be done independently or with minimum home assistance.  As the school year progresses, more challenging assignments, like long-term projects, are used as wonderful opportunity for teachers to model, encourage, and help the students build their: self-awareness, proactivity, perseverance, goal-setting, awareness of/use of support systems, and emotional coping strategies.  Generally, the goals for homework are:

•    Build good work and organization habits to build responsibility and independence, such as utilization of a planner 

     and binder organization.

•    Building independent and effective study habits

•    Reinforce and practice skills which are taught in the classroom

NOT to take up the child's whole afternoon or cause strife in the family dynamics.