In 1967, Yvonne and Dave Streit founded The Briarwood School because they could not find an institution capable of educating their severely handicapped daughter. Mrs. Streit sampled special needs programs across the country, including Purdue and UCLA, and compiled her own program based on the information she had researched. Mrs. Streit enlisted the aid of a special education teacher, an art teacher, and a physical therapist and began instructing six students in her backyard. The Briarwood School has since moved to west Houston, and over 9,000 students have attended The Briarwood School since its inception.
The Briarwood School has no religious affiliation.
Briarwood School is located between Dairy Ashford, Westheimer, Kirkwood, and Briarforest on 9.2 acres of land. The 80,000-square-foot school building contains modern athletics facilities, nine computer labs, and a Media Center.
Parents must complete the enrollment application and submit recent (within 2 years) testing information. The Briarwood School staff will review the submitted material, conduct an assessment session with the student, and interview the parent. After the assessment session, if the school’s available space permits, the student will be offered the opportunity to enroll with Briarwood School.
Testing information includes an intelligence test (WISC IV or WJ III NU Test of Cognitive Abilities), academic testing (Woodcock-Johnson or Wechsler Individual Achievement Test), and the student’s current school’s achievement tests. The enrollment application requires parents to submit information regarding their student’s developmental history, therapy and counseling history, and all educational evaluations. The Briarwood School will not contact the parent for an interview until all information is sent to the school by the professionals mentioned on the enrollment application.
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The Briarwood School prides itself on its ability to create prescriptive curriculum for each student’s needs. The lower school features classrooms of 8-10 students (according to age, socialization, and academic abilities) that are self-contained. The middle and upper schools also include students diagnosed with learning differences and emphasize self-advocacy in order to ensure that the student’s needs are being met. The Tuttle School is designed for students of ages 5-21 who are developmentally delayed. The classrooms are capped at 8 students, with a teacher and teacher’s aide at the helm. The Tuttle School emphasizes motor and living skills and provides students with pre-vocational and vocational experiences.
The Briarwood School’s focus since its founding has been the support of students with average to superior intelligence who are not necessarily accommodated by the traditional classroom setting, as well as the support of students who are developmentally delayed. The Briarwood School’s curriculum and programs are designed to cater to each student’s personal educational needs.
The Briarwood School does not offer any foreign languages.
As part of The Briarwood School’s curriculum, students are offered the chance to participate in the theatre arts as an elective. The middle and upper schools feature a drama class which focuses on developing the students’ acting abilities. Students in the upper school are also given the opportunity to join Company Class, a course which exposes students to all aspects of theatre arts production.
The Briarwood School’s facilities and classrooms include 170 computers, which are a mixture of PC and Mac platforms. The Briarwood School utilizes special education software packages in order to help individualize each student’s instruction and determine the student’s progress. These include CornerStone, SkillsBank, and Essential Learning Systems (ELS).
Students attending The Briarwood School are given the option to participate in a number of electives and activities as part of the curriculum. Students may join the student council, prepare for the job market in a business skills course, and/or design the school’s yearbook.
Students in grades 7 through 12 are eligible to participate in the school’s interscholastic sports program. The school fields teams in eight sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Golf, Soccer, Tennis, Track, Volleyball, and Winter Sports. The Briarwood School is a member of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
Additionally, students attending the Tuttle School are given the opportunity to participate in the Special Olympics Texas (SOTX) as early as age 8. To compete on the state level, students must be at least 12 years of age.
All parents are automatically members of Briarwood’s parent organization, The Friends of Briarwood; no dues are required. The organization’s biggest fundraising event of the year is the Annual Briarwood School Benefit.