Our Approach

It is often presumed that children in an “alternative educational setting” will not progress academically. That is simply not the case. We emphasize academic improvement and behavioral stabilization as measures of success.

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Licensed Teachers and Experienced Support Staff

Licensed teachers and experienced support staff recognize that learning occurs on a multitude of levels and that each child learns at a different pace and in a different way. Teachers are licensed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in the disabilities in which they specialize. They have the credentials and experience to understand the unique and complex learning and behavioral issues of each child. Instructional Aides are also licensed by the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Our teachers and support staff help students discover their maximum potential, experience accomplishment and success, and rekindle their love of learning.

Individualized Approach

The Richardson School believes in an individualized, student-centered approach. Goals are IEP, district, and family-driven, with focus on data collection and individualized plans for every student. Keeping in mind that each student’s needs are different, our approach is always relationship-based, working to foster those relationships through Collaborative Problem Solving and DIR/Floortime.

Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS)

Developed by Dr. Stuart Ablon and Dr. Ross Greene, CPS is a framework for solving difficult problems and building relationships in the process. The basis for Collaborative Problem Solving is for students to be a part of creating the solution through discussions of their concerns and staffs’ concerns. Through these discussions, difficult behavior is reduced, adult expectations can be pursued, skills are taught, and problems are solved so they don’t repeat. At TRS, staff that work closely with the student come together to develop a Thinking Skills Inventory, which highlights areas of strength and weakness. Triggers are then discussed and are the basis of initial conversations. As each problem is resolved, a new trigger and problem area is focused on. More information regarding Collaborative Problem Solving can be found at thinkkids.org

Social Emotional Learning

Research has shown that social-emotional skills cannot be built in artificial circumstances. Our students are enrolled in classrooms with peers of similar ability levels. This allows for students to engage in real-time practice of social engagement and relationship building. TRS develops a unique "crisis-cycle" for each student that describes how the student presents at each stage of escalation or de-escalation. Triggers and challenging situations are not removed, but rather work is done to navigate each stage of the "crisis-cycle" safely with the student. Through identifying appropriate supports at each stage, staff work with students to build self-awareness and self-management skills. TRS creates organic opportunities for students to identify their emotions and practice impulse control to foster a growth mindset and cultivate a sense of self-confidence and self-efficacy.

Challenging moments throughout the day allow for learning opportunities and growth to happen in the moment. Staff work with students to develop reflective practices and think empathically about the people around them and recognize how their behavior impacts others, in an effort to increase relationship skills. As students move through these moments, they identify and solve their own problems through debriefing and coaching from staff.

Regardless of their ability levels, our students are doing the best they can and we meet them where they are at. Through the relationships we build with our students, we allow for continuous development of the skills within CPS, DIR and SCERTS to increase social awareness, developmental growth and the ability to make responsible decisions beyond their time at TRS.


Developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder, DIR/Floortime is a framework for building healthy foundations for social, emotional and intellectual capacities. The basis for DIR/Floortime is to foster communication (both verbal and nonverbal) and interaction by following the student’s lead. Through the interactions, students learn tolerance, interpersonal skills, and relationship-building skills. At TRS, staff work one-on-one with a student in their area of interest by following their lead to continue the interaction. As each interaction increases in length, skills are being taught. More information regarding DIR/Floortime can be found at icdl.com

Trauma Informed Care

Trauma Informed Care is a thorough understanding of the profound neurological, biological, psychological and social effects of trauma on the individual. Individuals with disabilities are at a high risk for experiencing trauma in their lives, therefore TRS presumes a history of traumatic stress in our students that may affect current functioning and practice. Using universal precautions ensures staff are keeping important information in mind when interacting with others and creating programs and services to meet their needs. The Trauma-informed approach incorporates three key elements - the 3 R's: Realizing the prevalence of trauma; Recognizing how trauma affects all individuals involved with the program, organization, or system, including its own workforce; and Responding by putting this knowledge into practice. The following resources are available to access more information about Trauma Informed Care: Ukerusystems.com, thinkkids.org and childtrauma.org.

Comprehensive Student Evaluation

The Richardson School is unique in our ability to design instruction and supports around the individual needs of each student. During pre-enrollment and continuing throughout enrollment, our highly trained staff members compile a comprehensive evaluation of each student using a whole-student approach. This evaluation starts with the admissions process. Admissions Coordinators gather information from the home school district and family, including the student’s IEP, current academic data, testing and diagnostic information, as well as behavioral records to share with the TRS Leadership at their respective location. An environmental observation is also completed to identify student strengths and needs within their current location, necessary accommodations, observable learning styles, and individual interests.

Throughout a student’s placement at The Richardson School, our staff continually assess and support students in both their academic and social-emotional growth and development. Baseline assessments, regular progress monitoring and benchmark assessments are used to track student progress. The Richardson School also establishes behavioral baselines for all students within our specialized environment, and continually assesses and documents student skill inventories, crisis cycles, sensory profiles and engagement activities.

Carefully-Selected Curriculum

TRS implements carefully selected research based curriculum that directly aligns with Common Core State Standards and the alternate academic standards, the Essential Elements. Our curriculum is scaffolded to meet the individual student's academic needs and Individualized Education Plan goals. The curriculum can be accessed through various modalities at the student’s own pace and with assistance as needed.

TRS curriculum covers all core content areas for students enrolled in grades K-12, along with art therapy, physical education, and health education. Beyond the traditional curriculum TRS offers embedded instruction in social skill and behavioral supports, support throughout post secondary trainings, and the related services of Speech and Occupational Therapy. Regular delivery of progress monitoring assessments ensure that students are reaching their full academic potential while building the behavioral skills necessary to return to their home district.

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Curriculum Delivery

Technology is integrated into daily instruction and the student learning experience via classroom wide delivery (interactive touch boards) and individual student devices (IPADs and Chromebooks). The integration of technology allows for further individualized delivery giving students control of the pace, place and path.

TRS enrollment occurs throughout the school year. Curriculum begins at the current academic functioning level of the student. A student will progress through our curriculum as fast or slow as it takes for them to master the concepts and content.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have after school programs?

TRS offers Respite as an option for families needing care for their student both before and after school hours. Supports are provided by well-trained professionals in our current educational areas. During winter, spring, and summer break, TRS offers Bobcat Camp: a week long, recreation-based, community centered camp. Please contact the school for more information about either of these offerings.

Do you have summer school options?

TRS offers Extended School Year (ESY) throughout the summer months. However, participation in ESY is not guaranteed for any student, as it is dependent on their IEP. Since ESY is a separate IEP team decision, it is possible to enroll in just ESY, and not the regular school year. It can also be used as a transition period if a student is planning on starting in the fall at TRS or returning to their district.

Do you offer transitional support?

An array of transitional supports and services for the home school district, the student, and their families is also available. Contact us to learn more.

Our Students

The Richardson School serves children and young adults diagnosed with emotional, neurological and/or developmental disabilities.

Our Campuses

The Richardson School believes that a typical school setting is vital to the learning process.

Contact Us

If you have questions, we are here to help.