NY’s first public school for students with dyslexia and learning disabilities opens on Staten Island

Bridge Preparatory Charter School on Staten Island opened its doors for the first time this September, becoming the first and only public school in New York State dedicated to serving students with dyslexia and language-based learning disabilities. 

“For years, families here on Staten Island have been reaching out to elected officials, to the Department of Education,  specifically asking for programing and schools specifically designed to meet the needs of their students, these students who are struggling readers,” said Timothy Castanza, Executive Director of Bridge Preparatory Charter School. 

Roughly 70 percent of students at Bridge Prep are either dyslexic or have a learning disability and receive services in the classroom. 

"You'll see occupational therapists or speech teachers inside the classroom supporting what's going on, but also providing the related service," said Jesse ann Pirraglia, Director of Teaching and Learning at Bridge Prep.

Students are taught english, math, science, social studies and the arts. The curriculum is a structured approach to literacy through research-based and multi-sensory methods known as Orton Gillingham. 

“It’s not just about reading, but reading is embedded all day long to ensure that we reinforce those skills,” said Jesse Ann Pirraglia, Director of Teaching and Learning. 

Bridge Prep Charter School will be expanding next year, adding the third grade. The application process begins in the early winter.