The Kessler Center

The Kessler Center is an approved private special education school offering both residential and day placements for students with developmental disabilities. The school program is licensed by New York State Education Department and the residential program is licensed through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. The program is open to students throughout New York State who are in need of a highly individualized special education program.
For a student to be eligible for admission to The Kessler Center they must:

• Be between the ages of 5 and 21
• Have a Developmental Disability

Additionally, students who are seeking admission into the joint education-residential program must:

• Be eligible for OPWDD services

The Kessler Center is an available option for school districts seeking an out-of-district placement for a student with a developmental disability. The Kessler Center has broad expertise working with students across the entire range of developmental disabilities. In addition, The Kessler Center has advanced expertise in Autism Spectrum Disorders and working with children with developmental disabilities who are dually diagnosed or who struggle with behavioral challenges.

All classrooms at The Kessler Center are 6:1:3 (maximum of six students, 1 teacher, 3 teacher’s assistants).  Additionally, The Kessler Center provides all related services and has a large clinical and behavioral support staff. The program stresses experiential learning, community integration, functional academics, daily life skills, and personal independence. The program utilizes a strengths-based, person centered approach that is “hands-off.” While some physical interventions may be part of a student’s behavior support plan, these interventions are utilized only as a last resorts during times of behavioral crisis to protect life and limb.

In addition to academic and life-skills work in the classroom, each school day is filled with numerous field trips, projects, special classes (PE, music, art, technology, vocational programs, and electives), and fun experiences. The Kessler Center strives to provide students with the same opportunities as any other child, modified to support their success and growth. The Kessler Center has hosted school dances, family fun days, assemblies, sports events, costume parties and so much more to provide these universal childhood experiences to the students.

Students at The Kessler Center come from throughout New York State. The school offers 12 day placements and 24 residential placements. The school day is identical for both and is based on a district referral.

The Kessler Center residential program is tied to the school program through what is known as the Children’s Residential Project. This is a joint effort between NYSED and OPWDD to provide residential services linked to a school program. The referral into the residential can be made as part of the school district educational referral.

The Kessler Center residential program is composed of three, 8-bed, Intermediate Care Facility homes all surrounding the school building. In essence, the residential program is an educational program conducted in a residential setting to reinforce daily living skills, social skills, emotional growth and development, cognitive development, and community integration. This is a clinically intensive program where students have access to the same related services they would receive in school.

The Kessler Center strives to unify its school and residential programs by sharing staff between settings. The clinical staff work with the children in both the school and their residence. The Teacher’s Assistants start and end their day in the residential homes to help children with their transitions to and from the school. Journaling and other regular communication between the ICFs and school staff help assure a consistent approach with behavioral challenges and goal-driven activities throughout the child’s day.

Please contact Kristin Tysiac, admissions coordinator, 585-957-7199

For general information or to speak with another school representative, please contact: 585-957-7158

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