How it All Began
Marjorie McMorris with her son
Helix School Parent, Founder and Board Chair, Marjorie McMorris brought together educators, entrepreneurs and therapists whose expertise spans different areas, but who share the same vision: to change the educational system for children with autism. In 2014, The Helix School opened its doors to children who needed the daily support of a relationship-based interdisciplinary academic education with regular OT, speech and emotional based therapeutic interventions. Ms. McMorris has created an learning institution that looks at best practices and the latest research to ensure that students are receiving only the highest quality education and therapies, everyday.
As a parent of a child with autism, the McMorrises truly understand the challenges that both children and parents face. Parents want to give everything they possibly can to their children to allow them to lead fulfilling, connected and productive lives. The Helix School was built on this premise and continues to grow and offer children on the autism spectrum a chance: A chance to advocate for themselves, grow comfortable in their bodies, learn not only academics, but about the world and all the connectivity that comes from understanding relationships and to experience the joy of learning to share their particular passions with the others.
Ms. McMorris has a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development from Spelman College. She is trained in TEACCH Autism Program and Kimochis: Social and Emotional Learning. She is also level 1 certified in Pivotal Response Training.
What we've learned so far...
TEN Strategies for Success
- Developmental: Measure and teach at each student's unique level of functional and emotional development so as to avoid dysregulation.
- Relationship-Based: Build our interactions upon developmentally appropriate and trusting relationships with each student.
- Individualized: Tailor our approach and materials whenever it is to a student's advantage to do so, following each individual's motivations and interests.
- Balanced: Provide the optimal mix of academic and social-emotional learning for each student.
- Dynamic and Adaptive: Watch, listen, and adapt quickly to keep students engaged; know and use the best available instructional methods and materials; teach students to advocate for their own needs.
6. Interdisciplinary and Integrated: Take a holistic approach to academic education, using fun experiences and contexts to teach reading, math, speech, life skills, and socialization at the same time; provide; require communication among teachers and educational consultants so each student's learning is integrated and reinforced throughout the day.
7. Managed Environment: Select students who can learn and socialize well together; teach in private rooms where needed; provide developmentally leveled "pods" where groups of students can interact comfortably and learn effectively.
8. Family Centered: Learn family priorities; involve each student's family in consistent and integrated learning both inside and outside of school.
9. Assessment: Develop, measure, and respond to annual goals for each student.
10. Positive and Growth Oriented: Focus more on the strengths—rather than deficits—of our students, staff, and program.