WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 169 of 223

Unveiling the Paradigm 2015 is a special year — Gifford celebrates 50 years of achievements in special education. To anyone who has ever driven east or west on Route 20 over the past quarter-century, The Gifford School is instantly recog- nizable. It's fronted by the 200-year-old stately main administration building on Boston Post Road, a stone's throw from the Route 95 rotary. Longtime Weston residents and Route 20 commuters may recall that Gifford and its mission wasn't always so visible — literally. "When I became director 27 years ago, one of the first decisions I made was to cut down all the trees so you could see the school from Boston Post Road," says Bassichis. "It was completely enshrouded, which went along with the old philosophy that those with disabilities should be hidden from society." Bassichis and his team decided that was the wrong philosophy. "We decided to open up the front so people in the community could see it. Now you can see everything in front, and I still get feedback from peo- ple saying they enjoy seeing kids playing outside when they drive by." What people still may not know is that a grand 27-acre campus encompasses a high school, middle school, lower school, art room, library, gym, greenhouse, computer center, and kitchen. It looks like an affluent private school, but Gifford is actually a non- profit endeavor that provides educational and clinical programming for students with special academic, behavioral, and emotional needs. It was founded in the 1960s by Margaret Gifford, an educator in Cambridge who was readying for retirement, yet saw the need for a dedicated spe- cial education school. While the school's earliest beginnings are in Cambridge, the school moved to its present location in 1971. Today, approximately 100 students from age 8 to 20 attend from 65 surrounding towns and cities. The lower, middle, and high school offer a therapeutic, specialized educational and clinical program for stu- dents who face a variety of learning challenges. The 85 staff and faculty are highly-trained professionals, and there are even college interns onsite from Boston-area colleges and universities who are training in the mental health fields. 168 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 5 education "high morale here because we're team-oriented" The Gifford School's main administration building on Boston Post Road in Weston C O U R T E S Y T H E G I F F O R D S C H O O L

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