Heart to Heart

Heart to Heart Mission

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The Heart to Heart Program at Franklin Road Academy provides a challenging educational experience for students with Down syndrome in an inclusive, integrated Christian community, with an unwavering commitment to developing the full academic and social potential of each Heart to Heart student and instilling in our typically developing students understanding, acceptance, and love for those with developmental and learning differences.

We will:

  • Inspire our Heart to Heart and typically developing students to learn from and with one another, enriching the educational experience of all students in the process.
  • Expand the boundaries of possibilities for the academic development of students with Down syndrome.
  • Prepare our students with Down syndrome to lead productive and fulfilled lives beyond their years at FRA.

Robert Lewis Hits 3-Pointer on Senior Night

Seventh Grader Michael Blackburn Sinks Bucket

*The Heart to Heart program at Franklin Road Academy is specifically and intentionally designed for students with Down syndrome. Applicants are extensively observed and assessed prior to admittance to ensure that FRA can properly and effectively meet the needs of each individual student.

Heart to Heart Team

David Dawson
Heart to Heart Director
Upper School Teacher

Natalie Williams
Heart to Heart Teacher
Middle School

Taylor Werthen
Heart to Heart Teacher
Middle School
Sarah Moore
Heart to Heart Teacher
Lower School

Abby Hampton
Heart to Heart Teacher
Lower School

Admissions Process

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  1. Initial family tour (includes interview with H2H teachers/administrator)
  2. Application submission
    • Student Inquiry Form
    • Recommendations from previous teacher/therapist/tutor (cannot be a family member)
    • Copies of current and past Individual Education Plan, Service Plan, etc. (3 years)
    • Copies of current and past Behavior Intervention Plan (if applicable)
    • Copies of previous transcripts/academic records (if applicable)
    • Physcoeducational evaluation (within 3 years)
      • Must include social/developmental/behavioral assessment
      • Academic evaluation required for grades 5-12
    • Permission to observe student in current environment
  3. Evaluation of student in current program by a Heart to Heart instructor (1-2 days as needed)
  4. Student visit (FRA on-site evaluation by a Heart to Heart instructor, 1-2 days as needed)
  5. Final admission decision

Program Requirements

  • Heart to Heart students are to follow all FRA policies as found in the student handbook such as arrival and dismissal times, school calendars, and the like.
  • Heart to Heart parents are to participate in class activities and accompany their student on any overnight school-sponsored trip or field trip. Exemptions may be made based upon Heart to Heart instructor recommendation and administrative approval.
  • Medical needs should not require the attention of medically trained staff (able to be handled by the H2H instructor and staff).
  • Must be able to age appropriately manage toileting and personal hygiene.
  • Behaviors must not include major risk factors (elopement, aggression towards peers or adults, excessive inappropriate language, self-harm, etc.).
  • Student must be able to communicate basic wants/needs to staff members and follow classroom routines and procedures with support of H2H staff.
  • Student must be able to participate in whole group classroom lessons, with modifications/supports provided by H2H instructor/classroom teacher/H2H staff.
  • Parents must communicate regularly with H2H instructor and support student in meeting all FRA student requirements (dress code, attendance).

Program Details

All Heart to Heart instructors are highly trained teachers with degrees in special education.

Lower School

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Full-inclusion/Mainstreaming: H2H students in the lower school are fully integrated and fully participate in all lower school classes, activities, lunches, etc. As needed, H2H instructor will have “pullout” time throughout the day to have intensive 1-on-1 instruction time with the H2H student.

  • H2H instructor handles all accommodations/modifications for H2H students with assistance from H2H teacher’s assistants.
  • Pullout times should be coordinated with classroom teachers to ensure that the inclusionary environment is optimized.

Middle School and Upper School

H2H English (US/MS): Students receive specifically chosen instruction based upon academic performance levels taught by the H2H instructor in the H2H classroom.
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  • Vocabulary/Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Reading Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Writing Mechanics
  • Structured Writing
  • Creative Writing
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H2H Math (US/MS): Students receive specifically chosen instruction based upon academic performance levels taught by the H2H instructor in the H2H classroom.

  • Number Recognition
  • Counting /< > =
  • Decimals and Fractions
  • Addition/Subtraction/Multiplication/Division
  • Word/Story Problems
  • Money (Identification/Counting)
  • Practical Money Applications (Classroom Economy)
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H2H Science (US): (Mainstream Science as applicable in the Middle School)

  • US Science is full inclusion/mainstream as applicable based upon each individual student. Modifications/accommodations are completed by the classroom teacher with assistance from the H2H instructor as needed. Based upon each individual case, students may receive more individualized science instruction by the H2H instructor in the H2H classroom.
  • MS Science is full inclusion/mainstream class with corresponding grade level.
H2H Study Skills/Practical Living (US/MS): Students receive instruction focused on practical living skills and study skills taught by the H2H instructor in the H2H classroom. This instruction is rotated in with English, Science, and Math class times so that more electives may be offered.
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-advocacy
  • Study habits and organization
  • Classroom economy
  • Role-playing, practical situations
Full-Inclusion/Mainstream Classes: Students enroll in grade level History and/or elective classes in which they are mainstreamed with their typically developing peers. Electives will be limited to 1 H2H student per class. Classroom teachers are responsible for needed accommodations for the H2H students and will be trained/assisted as needed by the H2H instructor. The H2H instructor collaborates frequently with the classroom teacher (meeting, brief conversation, email).

  • US/MS Arts (Drawing, Art, Ceramics, Band, Choir, Drama, etc.)
  • US/MS PE/Wellness
  • US/MS History (as applicable)
  • US Religion/Tech
  • US Science (Robotics, Sci. Tech, Env. Sci.)
  • The H2H instructor will be available as needed to aid the classroom teacher with accommodations and participation ideas.
  • Sample US schedule of students

Advisory: H2H students are included in separate Advisory groups with their typically developing peers (limited to 1 H2H student per Advisory).

Lunch/Chapels/Open Activities/Navigating Campus: For any times during a regular school day in which students are independent, students will be responsible for themselves in the same manner that their typically developing peers are for themselves.


  • English/Math/Science/Practical Living: Grades will be given based upon effort, retention, and application of knowledge by the Heart to Heart teacher.
  • Full-Inclusion/Mainstream Classes: Grades will be given based upon effort and participation. Retention/application grades may be given based upon classroom teacher and Heart to Heart teacher discretion.
Additional Services

  • Speech, occupational, physical therapy may be provided through Nashville Metro Public Schools as required per student.