Westport Day School wants to move to Wilton
The Westport Day School, at 3 Sylvan Road South in Westport, is attempting to relocate to Wilton.
The school is applying for a special permit to allow a school for special needs students to operate out of a portion of the first floor of the existing office building at 372 Danbury Road.
The Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing is scheduled for Monday, June 22.
The proposed school would occupy approximately 10,000 square feet and would be staffed by 15 faculty members serving a maximum of 50 students.
Because there would be no construction, the applicant holds that the addition of the school will have no impact on traffic, town services, or sensitive environmental features.
The Wilton Plan of Conservation and Development states that “private schools, located in Wilton and elsewhere, play a vital role in educating children, at little if any cost to the Town.” Schools, public or private, are a special permitted use in the General Business Zoning District in which the desired premises fall.
History of the school
The Westport Day School, which describes itself as a “private, coeducational, therapeutic day school that serves internalizing children from Kindergarten through twelfth grade,” was founded in 2013 by Dawn Matera, M.Ed. and Mark Beitel, Ph.D. They now serve as its head of school and clinical psychologist, respectively.
In 2008, Matera established A Way to Learn, an executive function tutoring and academic coaching practice in Westport.
She noticed that some of her students needed specialized education during the day and began developing a one-on-one learning program, then called Inspired Academics.
According to westportdayschool.org, “At that time, students who were struggling with anxiety, depression, school refusal, and medical complications were offered few choices for alternative school placements.”
Due to a growing need for such a service, Inspired Academics became the full-time Westport Day School.
The program was piloted for two years before its official launch.
About the program
According to the program description, the Westport Day School addresses “academic needs ranging from remediation to giftedness.”
The student-to-teacher ratio ranges from one-to-one to six-to-one.
The school’s mission is “to provide powerful and effective therapeutic education that inspires, fascinates, and transforms children who have been beset by academic and clinical challenges such as anxiety, depression, learning disability, and/or school refusal. The mission is carried out by providing intensive, individualized, and student-interest-driven education of the highest quality.”
Dan Matera earned her master’s degree in special education from Southern Connecticut State University.
Before opening A Way to Learn, she taught at Eagle Hill Southport, a school for children with learning disabilities, for nine years.
Mark Beitel earned his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Fordham University.
He is on the psychiatry faculty at Yale University School of Medicine, where he has taught courses and conducted research.
Beitel has authored or coauthored more than 30 scientific articles on topics such as personality, psychotherapy, substance use, chronic pain, integrative medicine, and culture.
Information: Westport dayschool.org.