Starting in September, Sappo School will have a new name and location and will kick off a new instructional program tailored to students with dyslexia and reading disorders, school leaders plan to announce Monday.
The 25-year-old, K-12 private school in Commack will rebrand as Journey Prep School and relocate to 50 Cherry St. in Farmingdale, school president Steve Souhrada said in an interview with Newsday.
“This past year we’ve been thinking about a new location and potentially a name change, and things just aligned,” he said.
The Farmingdale site is the former St. Kilian School, which closed in 1992. The building most recently housed St. John Baptist de LaSalle Regional School, which closed in 2012. Souhrada said Sappo School secured a long-term lease for the space from St. Kilian Catholic Church.
It’s much larger than Sappo’s current building on Kings Park Road in Commack and more centrally located, he said. “We’re very excited about having a very nice school building in the heart of Long Island.”
With more room, the school could look to expand, Souhrada said. It currently enrolls 80 students. However, it would continue to maintain class sizes of no more than 15 students, providing the individualized learning the school is known for, he said.
As for the name change, Souhrada said: “We really wanted to have a name that was very reflective of the school that we’ve become. Our students are on a journey, and they come from all different paths to this school.”
The school focuses on providing a holistic education, particularly helping students who struggled in larger class settings, for example those with anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he said. The school was originally named for its founder, Joanne Sappo.
Tuition for the school is $30,000 for the year, with opportunities for scholarships, and the student’s home district may cover some costs.
In September, Journey Prep will expand its offerings, implementing a reading program aimed to help students with reading disorders, specifically dyslexia.
Students enrolled in the program will receive three full periods of reading each school day, learning skills such as reading comprehension and studying, said Concetta Russo, who will serve as Journey Prep’s director of reading.
Russo has more than 35 years of experience working as a learning specialist for children with reading disorders and dyslexia. She previously served as director of special education in Massapequa and is president of the International Dyslexia Association of Long Island.
The program will serve students in third through 12th grade and provide additional teachers.
“Our goal with this new reading program is to close the academic gap between potential and performance, help students overcome their learning challenges and have the opportunity to return to their academic environment in their home district,” Russo said in a news release provided to Newsday.
The program is the first of its kind on Long Island, Russo said.
“It’s being very, very sensitive to the public school environment, and understanding what their dilemma is,” she said, describing the restrictions placed on most public schools. They aren’t typically able to devote so much classroom time solely to reading, she said, so the goal is to be “the solution to the dilemma.”
“We want to borrow a kid,” Russo said, “do what we can do,” and then send the child back to their home district “functioning at a higher level and a better level.”