|Conroy School Serves A Special Student PopulationHeinz Field, home of the Steelers, and PNC Park, where the Pirates play, are landmarks for sports lovers on Pittsburgh’s North Side. Just a few blocks away,
the Pittsburgh Conroy Education Center is a landmark for students with
special needs.Pittsburgh Conroy is officially a landmark, as well, since the 1895 building is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. It is one of 609 structures in its architecturally rich, diverse and vibrant neighborhood that enjoy national or
local protection.But the modern use of the building is what makes it important. Since 1974, the former junior high school has been a center-based special education facility serving 165 students ages five to twenty-one who have special needs. Its students represent a range of diagnoses including autism spectrum disorder, pervasive developmental delay, Down syndrome, intellectual disability, developmental delay, and other neurological and medical issues.
Conroy is one of 54 schools operated by the Pittsburgh School District in a city of 306,000 people, but one of just three special schools in the district. Students there find a program designed to help them acquire the necessary skills to transition from school to community.
The center boasts some truly innovative programs that rely on partners in the surrounding city to improve outcomes for its students. The Community Based Vocational Training (CBVT) program for select students ages 17 to 21 is a collaboration with 12 local businesses that provides hands-on work experience.
Conroy is also an AlertSeat™ school. According to Eileen Bigley-Harris, the school’s Occupational Therapist, there is at least one of the devices in many of the building’s classrooms .
“We use AlertSeats as an alternative to conventional desk chairs, she said. “They provide some students with needed sensory input as they work at their desks/tables.”
“AlertSeats allow students to move in a controlled manner and many get the sensory input they need by sitting on the chairs,” she added. “Teachers from our Life Skills Support, Multiple Disabilities Support, and Autistic Support classrooms all provide positive feedback about their AlertSeats.”
Like many schools that have added AlertSeats to their furniture inventory, the Pittsburgh Conroy experience started with a free trial. “We liked what we saw,” Eileen said, and now the alternative seats are there to stay.