For each incoming student, our school social worker evaluates both the IEP and neuropsychological reports to establish an academic profile for all teachers. This profile includes testing accommodations, classroom accommodations and suggestions/techniques for classroom management to meet the needs to each individual student. Learning styles for each student are outlined within this profile to ensure each teacher is utilizing tools (graphic organizers, planners, differentiated activities, notes) that will help that student to achieve their full academic potential. When necessary, our school counselor and school social worker will collaborate to create a behavioral modification plan if behaviors are present in the classroom that are preventing that unique learner or their peers from success. Classroom observations occur throughout the year for both school counselor and school social worker to observe any social/emotional/behavioral struggles in real time, in order to alter each student’s unique counseling treatment plans.
In order to strengthen classroom teaching, The Smith School is equipped with two learning specialists, one for the Middle School and one for High School. Learning Specialists work in tandem with the teachers to establish best practices for each individual student. Together, the Learning Specialist(s) and the teachers work to identify learning goals and objectives, along with differentiated strategies on an as needed basis. Learning Specialists may also pull out/push in to class to work one on one with a student in the areas of executive functioning, organization, time management, and additional instruction.
Social/Emotional support is provided to students throughout the day via The Counseling Department's open-door policy. For those students who require weekly counseling as per parent request or IEP service mandate, a counseling session is scheduled with either our school social worker or school counselor during the student’s elective class period. The Counseling Department utilizes a results-oriented approach to counseling that is strengths based in nature. The goal of the counseling department is to promote independence, positive decision making, goal-setting, healthy relationships, distress tolerance, coping skills and self-advocacy. Our counseling approach incorporates Solution-Focused techniques, in addition to principles of DBT, CBT, Mindfulness, and Motivational Interviewing, as appropriate.
The counseling department also encourages all students to participate in group counseling, where additional social-emotional support and skill-building can be utilized.
The school counselor provides biweekly group counseling sessions with our high school students based on school and community needs. Group counseling is an efficient and effective way to meet students’ academic, career, social/emotional developmental and situational needs.
Students are divided into groups based off of their current grade level so that the school counselor can better assess the individual and unique needs relevant for each grade.
Group counseling sessions focus on the transition from middle school to upper school and the personal and academic differences that come with that change. In sessions, students participate in activities that facilitate both growth and exploration.
Group counseling sessions are geared towards personal/social development, post-secondary planning, and consideration of future goals.
Group counseling sessions are focused on career exploration, college planning and/or other post-secondary options.
First Semester: group counseling sessions primarily focus on college applications and/or internship placement. Students work in small groups, as well as individually with the school counselor to ensure that all college applications, FAFSA, and scholarship applications are successfully completed and submitted on time.
Second Semester: group counseling sessions focus on the transition from high school to college or from high school to career.
Speech Language & Literacy
Speech and Language Therapy is offered in individual, small group and push-in sessions. Expressive, Receptive and Pragmatic Language Skills are fully addressed by using a variety of techniques and strategies to stimulate and develop each student’s ability to communicate effectively in and out of the classroom. Our Speech Language Pathologist is trained to incorporate components of Orton Gillingham, Social Thinking, Executive Functioning methodologies; they are built seamlessly into sessions. Literacy Goals focus on improving student’s reading level, on an individual basis. Bridging the gap between decoding, comprehension and writing skills is a component addressed in each session. The Smith School’s team-based approach allows our expert faculty and specialists to collaborate, ensuring each student achieves carryover to fully master their goals.
Students have the option of signing up for the weekly Social Club! Run using Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking methodologies, students are given ample opportunities to learn, practice and reinforce appropriate social language skills! In a naturalistic environment, students learn to initiate conversation, enter and ease into an existing conversation, read body-language cues, negotiate respectfully, use Social Behavior Mapping when conversations didn’t go “as planned”; these are some of the areas addressed in these fun weekly meetings! Social Thinking Dynamic assessment is used throughout to continuously track our student’s progress, individually and in groups!
Knowledge for College
This college-readiness group is run by the school counselor and SLP and is aimed at building each student’s awareness of their individual strengths and weaknesses to better prepare them for college-life. Self-advocacy is a theme that is frequently addressed to ensure that students can successfully transition into the next chapter smoothly. Weekly goals ensure that students will receive direct skills training in becoming a positive self-advocate (e.g, learning who to ask and when to ask for assistance; developing and practicing “respectful” negotiation skills to help get what is wanted/needed in college; identifying academic strengths and weaknesses, in the context of seeking appropriate accommodations).
Executive Functioning Club
Using many of the tools and tactics taught by Sarah Ward, M.S. CCC-SLP, another club was created to help students identify their learner profile, improve their study-skills, improve time-management, learn to self-advocate, organize, learn to prioritize, goal-set, become “meta”-cognitive about their own capabilities, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and improve their theory of mind for planning and transitioning.
A group designed by our students themselves to cover the “Real”-Life” topics not often addressed in Health class. Real-Life Skills is run by our school counselor and SLP. Topics include, but are not limited to: Dealing with peer/media pressure, healthy decision-making, conflict-resolution, healthy relationships, drug/alcohol awareness, stress-management, networking, internship searches, interview skills, etc! New friendships are formed and reinforced and the topics of conversation are carefully designed to keep our students motivated and engaged.
Credit Recovery & Enrichment
The Smith School understands that students may fail a course or require additional support due to circumstances outside of their control. In this case, we offer a variety of courses to our students in the form of Summer Instruction. Summer classes are designed based off student need and vary each year.
We also offer enrichment courses, specifically in the area of Reading/Writing & Math if a student is interested in extra support or practice in a content area before the start of the school year.
Summer courses are offered in three different sessions (June, July & August) and each one will allow the student to come out with 1 credit toward graduation.