POULSBO — Gateway Christian Schools is opening a branch of its Arrowsmith Program, for children and adults with learning challenges, on Bainbridge Island.
Gateway Christian Schools superintendent Nick Sweeney said the program will open at 360 Tormey Lane, No. 298, near Highway 305 and High School Road, in September for the 2014-15 school year.
It will be Gateway’s third Arrowsmith site; it offers Arrowsmith at its Poulsbo and Bremerton campuses.
In addition, Gateway Christian Schools (www.gatewaychristianschools.org) owns and operates Gateway Childcare Plus, in Poulsbo; North Kitsap Preschool, for ages 3-5, in Poulsbo; Gateway Christian School in Poulsbo, for grades K-5; and Crosspoint Academy in Bremerton, for grades K-12.
The Arrowsmith Program was founded by Barbara Arrowsmith Young, a Toronto educator whose own experience included severe logical and verbal impairments. According to her book, “The Woman Who Changed Her Brain,” she helped herself by developing cognitive exercises that helped stimulate the growth of neural pathways. The Arrowsmith Program follows a similar approach: It seeks to improve cognitive functioning through identification of a student’s learning dysfunctions, development of an individualized program, and goal setting and careful monitoring of progress with a clear completion target.
According to Mark Costa, Gateway Christian Schools chief marketing officer, “Students who participate in the Arrowsmith Program are able to capitalize on their increased learning capacities, and it has been proven effective for those that have difficulty with reading, writing, mathematics, comprehension, logical reasoning, problem solving, visual and auditory memory, non-verbal learning, attention, processing speed, and dyslexia.”
The Arrowsmith Program demonstrates “that it is possible for students to strengthen weak cognitive capacities that may be causing learning dysfunctions, through a program of specific cognitive exercises. The program identifies and strengthens the weak cognitive capacities that affect learning,” Costa said.
“Research has established that different areas of the brain working together are responsible for complex mental activities, such as reading or writing, and that a weakness in one area can affect a number of other learning processes. Additional research has investigated the principle of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to physically change in response to stimulus and activity, to develop new neuronal/synaptic interconnections and thereby increase the ability to learn. Neuroplasticity refers to structural and functional changes in the brain that are brought about by training and experience.”
He added, “Groundbreaking research in neuroscience is leading to new insights into the ways in which the brain adapts in response to our experiences, and points to the conclusion that the brain is not static, but rather is undergoing dynamic changes throughout one’s entire life.”
Gateway’s Arrowsmith Program (www.gcsarrowsmith.com) was the first in Washington state; there are now three, Sweeney said.
“We have come to the understanding that there are a lot of people on Bainbridge Island who are interested in the program,” Costa said. “If we get ourselves closer to Bainbridge, we’re going to be more effective.” The Poulsbo and Bremerton Arrowsmith programs each have 15 child students and two adult students, Sweeney said. He expects about the same number on Bainbridge.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Gateway Christian Schools to offer the Arrowsmith Program and positively impact the lives of both children and adults [on Bainbridge Island],” said Barbara Waggoner, Gateway elementary principal and coordinator of the Bainbridge Arrowsmith site.
“We have successfully provided this life-changing approach for the past two years on both our Poulsbo and Bremerton campuses. The response has been quite overwhelming.”
Parent Trish Maguire said in the school’s announcement about the Bainbridge Arrowsmith Program: “The Arrowsmith Program has changed the trajectory of my son’s life.”
Gateway Christian School in Poulsbo was founded 40 years ago as Christ the King Academy, located in the original Poulsbo Elementary School buildings. The school became Gateway Christian School when it was acquired by Gateway Fellowship. Gateway acquired Crosspoint Academy in spring 2012. Gateway Christian Schools bills itself as an independent school district and provides bus service to its campuses.