The Individualized Instruction Program (IIP) is a principal component in the School’s capability to fulfill its mission, both historically and today. Individualized attention to a student’s learning needs has been a keystone of The Rectory School’s program since its inception. When the School was started in 1920 by the Reverend Frank H. Bigelow and his wife, Mabel, the emphasis was on providing individualized attention and a customized curriculum to students in small classes set in a caring atmosphere.
The origins of IIP reach back in the School’s history to the 1930s when the Bigelows’ eldest child, Elizabeth, worked with the Durrell-Sullivan Clinic in Boston and to the 1940s when John Bigelow, her brother, began an association with Dr. Samuel T. Orton, a neurologist who pioneered research on specific language disability. Indeed, when the Orton Society (named for Dr. Orton and eventually renamed the International Dyslexia Association) was founded in 1949, many of Rectory’s faculty were charter members. In the 1960s, the Society was headquartered at Rectory, and the School’s headmaster, John Bigelow, was treasurer of the Society for fifteen years.
The first director of Rectory’s Language Retraining Program received her early training in dyslexia at the New York Neurological Institute where Dr. Orton designed his Language Research Project and collaborated with Anna Gillingham. Through its Language Retraining Program, the School helped to pioneer the use of Orton-Gillingham principles: a highly structured, sequential, multisensory approach to remediating students with specific disability in reading, spelling, and penmanship.
Over the years, the program evolved into the School’s Individualized Instruction Program and today serves children with a variety of learning styles, interests, study habits, and academic needs. IIP continues as a vital component in the School’s overall capability to fulfill its mission, nurturing the whole child within a caring, individualized learning environment.