Our Approach

At the heart of our educational philosophy is the deep understanding that everyone learns in a unique way, not just students who have been diagnosed with a specific challenge.


Adapting our approach to fit how each student learns is just what we do at Dearborn. We know students flourish with the right support and in the right environment.


These assumptions define our culture and approach. We don’t expect or require students to be any certain way. We invite them to come as they are, and we will meet them wherever that is. Every Dearborn student arrives with different skills. Our job is to understand that starting place and figure out how to capitalize on a student’s strengths all while continuing to challenge them to grow.


Here’s what it looks like:

Dearborn Milieu 

Success at Dearborn is the result of a customized academic program that is supported by the milieu – the therapeutic environment that provides student support throughout the day. Teachers and therapists work closely together so students can be fully engaged in the complete range of educational opportunities – from class discussions to club meetings. Students know that if problems arise, they have someone in the room who can help them handle the challenge.


Knowing that they are supported relieves the pressure students feel to conform and helps them rebuild confidence. With the right kind of support through the milieu, students can conceptualize and put into action, new strategies for achievement.

Rigorous, Challenging, Supportive

We believe that all students, no matter their learning needs, deserve an opportunity to be challenged. As leaders in special education and social-emotional learning, our educators implement a curriculum that is culturally responsive, equitable, and builds on students’ strengths. We provide the support, including social and emotional support, that they will need to successfully navigate our academically-rigorous curriculum. We help them understand that working hard within a supportive context will serve them well.


If supporting each student’s unique learning needs is our DNA, being small and nimble is our constitution. It’s what makes Dearborn staff both proactive and responsive – constantly assessing what’s working and what’s not, while finding creative ways for our students to be successful.  


Students learn individually and in classroom settings, with opportunities to develop strengths and interests as well as work on areas that need more attention. When students are struggling and lack confidence as learners, it’s essential that they discover their strengths. Because there are so many ways to learn here – and we are always developing new ones – students will always find their islands of competence and be celebrated. 


Knowing that you belong is at the heart of every student, parent and staff member’s Dearborn experience. No one is ever alone here. Everyone brings something to the table. We all learn from each other. There is a shared sense of responsibility for making our school a safe and welcoming place, and building a community that we are proud to call our own.