Ocean Avenue LEARNing Academy Opens

Ocean Avenue LEARNing Academy Opens
All smiles on Ocean Avenue

Construction is complete and LEARN Student Support Services has opened the Ocean Avenue LEARNing Academy, a specialized outplacement school and diagnostic and wellness center designed to support students with developmental and behavioral challenges in the region.

LEARN has moved students into the new facility. An official ribbon cutting will take place in early 2019, commemorating an important project that will benefit LEARN’s member school districts and towns served. 

“Three years ago, the region’s superintendents identified the need for a regional clinical diagnostic center to assist with the growing number of students with behavioral needs,” said LEARN Development Director Jack Cross. “The Academy and particularly the Diagnostic Wellness Center truly reflect LEARN’s effort to listen and respond to the needs of the region.”

The Academy is housed in the 36,000 square-foot former synagogue at 660 Ocean Avenue. LEARN purchased the building from Congregation Beth El and received approval from the city of New London to convert the space into a school. The Department of Administrative Services (DAS) endorsed LEARN’s application for a $5,100,000.00 building project grant which led to legislative approval.

The facility underwent numerous renovations including installation of a sprinkler system and upgrades to the heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical systems. An 875 square-foot addition has been constructed as well as an elevator to allow access to different levels of the building.

The new facility is still undergoing minor renovations but has opened for its inaugural school year this month. LEARN will hold an open house for the community and will invite district members and families to tour the new facility.

“We are very excited to bring our specialized programming and services to our new location in New London,” said Bridgette Gordon-Hickey, Associate Executive Director and Director of Student Support Services. “The Ocean Avenue Learning Academy will continue to serve families, students, and districts with highly skilled staff and a welcoming, caring community. Service is at the core of LEARN’s mission and our new facility is built to serve and support our region’s students and families.”

The facility supports students with developmental disabilities such as autism, emotional and behavioral challenges, and complex medical needs. LEARN’s Transition Academy for students age 18-21 will still remain at its current location on Boston Post Road in East Lyme.

The Academy currently supports about 60 students ranging in age from pre-kindergarten through age 21. The school was designed to accommodate future program growth and can serve up to 100 students. In addition to classrooms, the building offers a gross motor skills room, nurse’s office and exam room, related service spaces, and a large meeting space for events and professional development offerings.

The diagnostic and wellness center offers specialized services and recommendations for districts with students requiring short-term placement and comprehensive evaluation. Student Support Services also offers a variety of professional development and collaborative learning opportunities for educators, as well as regional events to support families and communities.

In addition to tours of the facility, families can learn more about Student Support Services, its programs, and experts at LEARN’s 3rd Annual Disability Summit. The event returns to the Mohegan Sun Convention Center on March 16. This free, collaborative event attracts 500 attendees from across the state and connects families of students with disabilities from birth through age 21 with over 80 community organizations and resources.

Placement at the Academy is determined by school districts and families must consult their home districts for consideration. For more information about the Ocean Avenue LEARNing Academy and other LEARN programs and events, visit our website: www.learn.k12.ct.us (860) 434-4800.

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