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About Us


We are pleased you are interested in our school. We will do everything necessary to help you succeed in your education and to assist you in making positive choices in your life.

Overlake Specialty School is a unique program coordinated with school districts, community service providers, families and others to meet the special needs of students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The program is committed to Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) through application of the principles of Re-ED and the techniques of Life Space Crisis Intervention to our work with students.

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Classroom Setup

The school has seven classrooms designed to support students with specialized needs:

  • Two elementary school classrooms serving students aged 5 to 11.
  • Three middle school classrooms serving students aged 11 to 14.
  • Two high school classrooms serving students aged 14 to 21.

The school is a non-public agency approved through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. This credential allows our program to contract directly with public schools to provide services necessary to meet the individual needs of each student. Overlake Specialty School is committed to active partnerships with school districts, serving as an optional placement for districts when they have exhausted their resources for students who are behaviorally and emotionally challenged.


Our Mission

To provide a caring educational community where students develop healthy relationships and intrinsic values. We use a holistic, strength-based approach for positive behavior change that facilitates students' reintegration to their home communities.

Our Goals

  • To provide students with consistency and a sincere attitude to help establish trust and respect.
  • To teach students the skills necessary to regulate and monitor their own behavior consistent with social norms.
  • To enhance student self esteem and positive social/emotional development.
  • To orient students toward successful relationships with authority figures.
  • To provide support for the students families.
  • To encourage the acquisition of skills needed for the successful transition from school to community.
  • To reintegrate students as soon as possible to the least restrictive school setting.
  • To offer a drug-free and safe environment.

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Guiding Philosophy

We believe in the 12 Principles of Re-Education and apply them to our program. The Re-Education Philosophy is used all over the world and has been adapted to serve many programs working with youth who are having significant emotional and /or behavioral difficulties.

1. Life is to be lived now.
Life is to be lived now, not in the past, and lived in the future only as a present challenge.

2. Trust is essential.
Trust between a child and adult is essential, the foundation on which all other principles rest, glue that holds teaching and learning together, the beginning point for reeducation.

3. Competence makes a difference.
Children and adolescents should be helped to be good at something, especially at schoolwork.

4. Time is an ally.
Time is an ally, working on the side of growth in a period of development when life has a tremendous forward thrust.

5. Self-control can be taught.
Self-control can be taught and children and adolescents helped to manage their behavior without the development of psychodynamic insight; and symptoms can and should be controlled by direct address, not necessarily by an uncovering therapy.

6. Intelligence can be taught.

The cognitive competence of children and adolescents can be considerably enhanced they can be taught generic skills in the management of their lives as well as strategies for coping with the complex array of demands placed upon them by family, school, community, or job; in other words, intelligence can be taught.

7. Feelings should be nurtured.
Feelings should be nurtured, shared spontaneously, controlled when necessary, expressed when too long repressed, and explored with trusted others.

8. The group is important.
The group is very important to young people, and it can be a major source of instruction in growing up.

9. Ceremony and ritual give order.

Ceremony and ritual give order, stability, and confidence to troubled children and adolescents, whose lives are often in considerable disarray.

10. The body is the armature of the self.

The body is the armature of the self, the physical self around which the psychological self is constructed.

11. Communities are important.

Communities are important for children and youth, but the uses and benefits of community must be experienced to be learned.

12. A child should know some joy in each day.

In growing up, a child should know some joy in each day and look forward to some joyous event for the morrow.

School Values

  • We are one community.
  • We demonstrate responsibility.
  • We communicate openly and honestly.
  • We advocate for our wants and needs.
  • We are safe with our bodies and words.

In the News

Overlake Specialty School  |  Seattle's Child

May 9, 2012  |  Cheryl Murfin

"When you have a child with special needs, finding a school willing and able to focus on your child's ability as much or more than his disability isn't just a challenge. It can be the difference between a child succeeding in school and in the world beyond, or – a parent's worse nightmare – a child needing care and oversight for the remainder of his life."

7 Holiday Survival Tips for Parents of Kids with Behavior Challenges  |  Seattle's Child

December 1, 2017  |  Christopher Hibbeln (Counselor, Overlake Specialty School)

"This season brings a mixture of family joy and stress for everyone. But when you have a child with special needs, especially behavioral difficulties, the holidays can quickly become overwhelming for even the most capable parent."

Shift Your Thinking to Lift Your Mood

May 5, 2020  |  Darcy Newby (Counselor, Overlake Specialty School)

"In light of our world’s current health and economic crisis, so much is unknown. As we try to adapt to the ever-changing state of affairs, we must adjust our actions accordingly. We must also consciously shift our way of thinking. Here are some useful tools to shift perceptions, improve mood and promote feelings of security and well-being."

How to Deal with Seasonal Affective Disorder: HealthLink

January 19, 2024  |  Darcy Newby (Counselor, Overlake Specialty School)

King 5’s Christine Pae interviewed Darcy Newby, one of the school’s counselors, about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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Thank you for considering a donation for Specialty School students and families. Your contribution helps ensure that all of our kids have clothes, school supplies, hygiene supplies and other necessities throughout the year, as well as holiday meals and presents for families in need. Thank you for supporting success for our students.
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