Randolph's Higashi School: A lesson in 'valuing the whole child'

RANDOLPH, Mass. — At a school in Randolph, teachers believe bonding with students will help them feel secure and thrive.

At the Boston Higashi School (in Randolph) those students happen to have autism, but they're not defined by their diagnosis.

The building is a hive of activity, and that is all part of the plan.

Deborah Donovan is principal of a school that has pioneered a unique approach to teaching children with autism. It’s called Daily Life Therapy. The core of that program is based on three pillars.

"Vigorous physical exercise, emotional bonding and intellectual stimulation," Donovan explained. 
There are about 165 students here, taught by a 4-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio. Yoshino Stanbrook is one of those teachers.

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She says the school’s holistic approach allows them to feel safe and valued, and then grow.

“It’s about the heart-to-heart education we have with them all day long,” Stanbrook said. “We eat together with them and bond.”

Higashi was founded in Japan, where a mother school in Tokyo still practices the same principal.

This year marks three decades since the school brought its technique to the U.S. and Donovan says in that time, they've learned a lot about autism and the kind of environment that allows children to thrive.

It's what she'd like to see for students of all ages moving forward.

“I’d like to see people valuing the whole child,” said Donovan. “Children are more than a test score or a data point on a graph … whether they have autism or not.”

You can find out more about the school here.

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