Westmark At A Glance
In its quest to be the finest school in the United States for students with
language–based learning differences such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia, Westmark School consistently makes a difference in the lives of not only the students who enroll, but also to the families of those students. Students discover a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities to reach their potential when they are challenged in the warm, trusting environment Westmark offers which further draws on their strengths and helps them navigate their weaknesses. Westmark families experience the difference as they watch bright children flourish and explore the world in which they live.
- Mission & History
- Westmark's Values
- Westmark Beyond The Classroom
- Learning Differences
- Expected School-wide Learning Results (ESLRs)
- Westmark Teaching Methods
- Advanced Technologies
Westmark School inspires students with language-based learning differences who possess academic potential and personal promise to build on their strengths and prepare for a successful college experience.
In 1983 Landmark School of Massachusetts opened Landmark West in Culver City as a west coast extension of their school. The Landmark Foundation purchased the Encino campus in 1994. In the fall of 1997, Landmark School was purchased by a non-profit corporation, Learning with a Difference, Inc. to provide local control over the development and implementation of the program. These leaders renamed the school Westmark. Throughout its various incarnations over the last 30 years, the basic mission and educational philosophy of Westmark has remained the same: to enable students and parents who live with language-based learning differences to successfully pursue their dreams.
Westmark values the importance of building on each child’s pillars of strength to create successful communicators, self-directed learners, and critical thinkers.
Since its founding over 30 years ago, Westmark School has been committed to providing a superior academic education and comprehensive curriculum to Grades 2-12 students with dyslexia, language processing issues and other related learning differences. With students ranging from diagnosed dyslexia and AD/HD, to extreme reading, writing, comprehension, mathematical, and organizational difficulties, our students discover how they learn best and become advocates for themselves during their years at Westmark.
Nurturing inherent abilities provides the students with confidence to work successfully through the Westmark educational experience. They acquire resiliency, learning strategies, organizational and literacy skills, and the ability to self-advocate and work in teams. Westmark’s curriculum and teaching methodologies are research-based and implemented by highly trained and experienced teachers who differentiate instruction according to each student’s learning profile.
With a commitment to embracing and reflecting the changing needs of students, instruction is enhanced through cutting edge technology. Lessons are presented in multiple modalities, and study skills and organizational strategies are integrated into the daily curriculum.
Our admissions criterion targets those students with average to above average intellect, and in turn our academic goals are elevated and continually reevaluated for each child.
The school’s exceptional multi-modal, differentiated method of teaching allows children to discover not only their personal academic style but their strengths and areas of need as well. With state-of-the-art facilities, including a new fine arts building, and low student-teacher ratios, our faculty goes to great effort to truly get to know all of our students and their families
The Westmark difference extends beyond just the classroom. With a beautiful athletic field, highly competitive sports teams, a small sound stage and production studio, countless enrichment programs including a vibrant music and visual arts program, amazing class trips, a growing emphasis in the visual arts, student leadership opportunities as well as enlightening community service programs, Westmark has much to offer motivated, creative, and athletic students, from lower school through high school graduation and beyond.
Westmark School serves students with diagnosed language-based learning differences who struggle academically in more traditional learning environments.
Learning involves four steps:
1. Input of information
2. Organization of information
Learning differences can manifest at one or more of these steps. They often reveal themselves in a student’s reading or writing skills. A child with a learning difference may also experience trouble memorizing math facts, or understanding how to organize the steps of a difficult problem, even after repeated instruction. Organization is often a mysterious process for the student who learns differently – an overflowing backpack and misplaced homework may be an everyday occurrence. Some students struggle with attention issues as well, which make it challenging for them to access curriculum solely through traditional means.
Learning differences vary from person to person, ranging in scope and severity. The way learning differences affect your child will be unique and will require an individualized learning program. It is important to see in all children’s learning profiles both their weaknesses and their strengths in order to better help them understand the particular way in which they learn. The more students understand about how they learn, the more likely it is that they will develop strategies to compensate for their weaknesses and take pride in their strengths.
At Westmark, teachers help students develop the strategies needed to succeed in school and encourage them to discover new ways to process information. Through multi-modality instruction and alternative assessment activities, Westmark students have the opportunity to utilize their strengths and become self advocates, critical thinkers, problem solvers and independent learners.
Westmark School students exhibit self-confidence/self-esteem,
and exemplify literacy as they become…
1. Successful communicators who…
- Use oral, written and creative forms of expression tocommunicate information, ideas and emotions
- Utilize technology to enhance communication
- Receive and interpret the communication of others in an effective manner
2. Self-directed Learners who…
- Demonstrate responsibility for self and others
- Assess needs and learning styles and apply appropriate strategies and utilize these effectively to set and achieve goals
- Reflect on experiences and apply the knowledge gained to plan for the future.
- Accept responsibility for own behavior and actions
- Demonstrate ability to complete assignments and projects independently
3. Responsible Members of Society who…
- Contribute time, energies and talents to improve the quality of life in our school, community, nation and world
- Promote mutual respect, appreciation and acceptance among people of different backgrounds, cultures and abilities
4. Critical Thinking/Problem Solvers who…
- Use technology effectively
- Design, implement and evaluate appropriate strategies to solve a wide variety of problems
- Use evaluation, synthesis and analysis to establish and apply criteria to support judgment
- Apply complex problem-solving processing and critical thinking to real-life scenarios while cooperating and collaborating with others.
Student Profile and Strength-Based Approach
Each student has an educational plan summarizing the neuro-developmental strengths, affinities and areas of challenge. We are committed to the principles developed in the All Kinds of Minds®program for guiding classroom instruction, creating accommodations and interventions, and leveraging strengths.
Teachers instruct at the level of students’ skill development with the goal of achieving mastery and automaticity of essential academic skills. Academic tasks and assignments are scaffolded, and each step is explicitly taught. Instruction at every level encompasses a variety of modalities and learning styles.
A variety of formative and summative assessment tools are used in each class to direct classroom instruction and track student progress. Students are given an annual reading-language assessment. Individual R.I.T. achievement scores, corresponding goals, and percentile rankings are obtained through the “Measures of Academic Progress” (Northwest Evaluation Association), which are administered biannually to all students.
Reading teachers receive ongoing and annual training in various research-based reading programs designed for intensive intervention. All students through the 8th grade are assessed annually in reading and language skills and placed in carefully grouped reading classes designed to address their needs. High school students are assessed when they enter the school and placed in reading classes as needed. Reading fluency is also addressed through the Read Naturally digital program.
Reading and study skills instruction is embedded in all content classes with an emphasis on organization, time management, comprehension and study strategies. Westmark has developed school-wide organization, note-taking, and test preparation systems. Teachers also utilize and receive ongoing and annual training in the University of Kansas’ Strategic Instruction Model: Content Enhancement Routines and Learning Strategies.
Students develop their writing skills in content and English classes using the Jane Schaffer Writing Program®. Teachers receive ongoing training via our professional development program. Students are also instructed in the University of Kansas’ Sentence Writing Strategy programs. Elementary teachers emphasize the six traits of writing.
Effective social skills are taught through modeling and the “social autopsy” approach developed by Rick Lavoie. Using the guidelines developed by Dr. Robert Brooks based on the principles of resilience and the charismatic adult, students are guided to build positive relationships, participate in problem solving, and practice effective self-discipline.
Westmark is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS)
and is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).