Building the bridge to a brighter future.
Located in the Rosann Gelvin Noel Education Center on the Cunningham campus, Gerber Education Program provides special education services for approximately 60 youth (ages 9-21) in our residential treatment programs. The program is recognized by the Urbana School District 116 and follows the district’s curriculum and yearly calendar. Gerber School is accredited by AdvancEd.
Gerber Education Program serves with a wide variety to educational eligibility labels. The majority of our students meet the educational criteria for the Emotional/Behavioral Disorder eligibility but we also serve students who have the educational label of Autism, Other Health Impairment, Learning Disability or Intellectual Disability. Our students frequently exhibit gaps in academic knowledge due to these disabilities as well as issues with behavior, school attendance, or mobility. Speech/language, occupational therapy, and other related services are provided as needed. In addition to their special education eligibility label, our students are frequently diagnosed with a myriad of mental health disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. We work closely with our residential colleagues to understand the educational implications of these mental health conditions.
Highly-skilled special education teachers, school service personnel, and teaching assistants work as a team with residential program therapists and staff to provide coordinated educational support. Many youth are significantly below academic grade level expectations when they arrive at Cunningham and have not experienced prior school success. While our students often exhibit multiple variables such as learning disabilities, trauma, and mental health diagnoses that pose challenges to educational progress, the Gerber team assists each child in creating a positive identity as a learner so they can move forward toward academic success.
We see Gerber Education Program as a bridge to our students’ future. Our staff meet kids where they are at academically and behaviorally and provide a safe space where students can build and practice academic, behavioral, vocational, and social skills that are needed to move them toward success in public school and future independence.
Individualized education planning including small class sizes, sensory techniques, and trauma-informed strategies are hallmarks of the Gerber approach to education. In order to meet our students’ individual academic needs while also addressing state standards, staff utilize current and historical student data to implement research-based curriculum and interventions.
In addition to academics, we recognize that factors such as social skills, emotional regulation, self-advocacy, and vocational skills impact our students’ ability to transition successfully to public school and community settings. All students at Gerber participate in a social skills curriculum specifically designed to address these needs. These skills are further taught through Gerber’s collaboration with Cunningham’s residential and vocational education programs.
Cunningham Children’s Home accepts children and youth into our programs through referral and funding from agencies such as a local school district, the Department of Children and Family Services, and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. For more information about the Gerber Education Program, call our Intake/Admissions Coordinator at (217) 367-3728, ext. 281.
This institution is an equal opportunity provider.