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A best kept secret in private schools

A profile of The Grace School, one of the lowest costing private schools in Rhode Island.

By Susan Gale

When someone says Meeting Street, what do you think about?

  • A telethon?
  • A school for children with special needs?
  • One of the lowest costing private schools in the state for students without special needs?

Perhaps that third one comes as a surprise to you but it’s true. Over its 70-year history, Meeting Street has grown in all sorts of ways. One of them is The Grace School – a K-8 inclusive private school with a $9,700 annual price tag – making it significantly lower than many other private schools.

A school where everyone knows your child

With 111 students, classrooms at The Grace School are one-third children with special needs and two-thirds children without specific special needs. This creates a perfect situation to help all children develop empathy and compassion for others, said Head of School Margaret Knowlton.

“As a school, we want to turn out students who are smart. We also need people who are going to go out and be good people,” she said. “Sometimes you can lose kids in middle school. Empathy is not automatic, but we share the values of respect and compassion here and when they leave and go into high school, they take those values with them.”

Students from The Grace School often move on to high schools such as La Salle Academy, Bishop Hendricken High School, Classical High School, and Saint Raphael Academy, said Cecilia Pirotto, Director of Marketing.

In terms of the difference between teaching children with special needs and those without, Knowlton said, “If you can’t do it for all kids, you probably shouldn’t do it.”

“We follow a rigorous general education program. Teachers are really good in how they modify that and make it make sense for each child,” she said. “Because we are always about individual needs, we are able to do that for everyone – individualize. We are a school where everyone knows your child.”

The Grace School is at 1000 Eddy Street, Providence, RI 02905. Phone is (401) 533-9100.

Focused on both academics and social-emotional competencies

The school follows the Responsive Classroom® approacha set of practices and strategies that build both academic and social-emotional competencies based on the belief that this creates the best learning environment.

Each classroom has at least two teachers and most have no more than 16 students. The teachers are dual-certified for teaching children with special needs and those without special needs. In addition, specialists come into the classroom in areas such as reading. This creates an individualized learning atmosphere in the classroom, said Knowlton.

“They follow a workshop model. Teaches do small group and individual instruction and bring it together when it makes sense for whole group instruction,” she said.

Amenities on Campus

At The Grace School, afterschool activities are included in the price. Just about everything is included in the tuition except the cost of uniforms, said Director of Marketing Pirotto.

With a 9-acre Meeting Street campus in Providence, The Grace School takes advantage of multiple facilities including a small pool, a gym, and accessible playground. Meeting Street is currently building out a new classroom building and an accessible track and field area in order to bring about more sports possibilities.

The Grace School also offers many different kinds of devices that help children learn such as a room filled with new computers and a video lab where children can take part in a digital media club.

Student’s view

The school offers unique ways for students to work together. For instance, when running for student government, students run in pairs – one with special needs and one without special needs.

“You get to meet new people and make a lot of friends even friends with disabilities. I have a nice friend that controls his wheelchair with his head,” said 7th grader Angelika Moquete. “I like the diversity [the school] has. It doesn’t matter if you are disabled or not.”

Carlos Luna, also in 7th grade, said he reads 20 books every year as part of school. “It’s new types of books that I’m not used to reading,” he said, noting that he is currently reading Orbiting Jupiter, a novel about a teen father who is searching for his daughter.

Applications are open

The school is looking for 15 new students without special needs to start in the 2019-2020 school year. The entrance is competitive with academic screenings completed by potential students. A committee then reviews potential students and offers acceptance letters. Learn more and apply here.

Meeting Street also offers the following schools and services:

They have the Providence campus at 1000 Eddy Street, as well as: The Schwartz Center at One Posa Place, Dartmouth, MA 02747, (508) 996-3391; and an early intervention office at 543 North Street, New Bedford. MA 02740, (508) 996-3391.

Susan Gale is the owner and publisher of Kidoinfo.com.

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  • My son attends the middle school at Grace. He is a student with special needs.

    Our experience at Grace has been a breath of fresh air.

    The staff and students at Grace are warm, genuine, and supportive. The staff has been very creative in meeting my son’s needs and challenging him to move further functionally and academically. The students have been so kind and encouraging to my guy. Its heartwarming to see their interactions and hear about them when my son comes home.

    Grace has been everything we could hope for and more for my son.

  • My daughter attends the Grace School and we couldn’t be happier. She is thriving academically and socially. The inclusive classrooms are wonderful for teaching compassion and giving kids the chance to form friendships with children who are different from them. The staff is top notch. Caring and kindness rule at the Grace School!
    Truly one of the state’s best kept secrets.

  • I can’t say enough great things about The Grace School. My child (who does not have special needs) has been with the school for the past 6 years and it really is a family who educates. The teachers are so attentive and really considerate of each child’s learning needs. Grace School has been a blessing to us.

  • My daughter joined the Grace School this year and I am continually impressed by the intelligence, skill level and engagement of the staff and what they bring to her education. As a parent, it’s a very family centric environment.

  • My daughter has been attending The Grace School for three years now and she loves it there. It’s a great place for children with and without disabilities to learn and thrive! Great Article!

  • Thank you for this excellent profile of Meeting Street School! Our son has been attending Meeting Street since preschool and is making great strides this year as a 4th grader. We can’t say enough wonderful things about the teachers, therapists and administration and how they go above and beyond to make sure every student is included in every activity. It is heartwarming to see how much the students both with and without special needs are learning from each other.

  • Our daughter has been at The Grace School since Kindergarten. We are very pleased with the academics, and extremely impressed with the holistic and inclusive nature of the school. The facility is top notch, the tuition is an incredible value, and the sense of community is strong. This is a hidden gem!

  • The Grace School is amazing. My daughter has learned so much already and has made wonderful friends. The class sizes are small and the teachers are great at communicating about your child. I couldn’t ask for a better place for her. As an educator I am in awe at how well this school is run and how much my child has thrived here.