Magazine article Momentum

Meeting Academic Needs through Mission

Magazine article Momentum

Meeting Academic Needs through Mission

Article excerpt

The team works with the teachers to provide curriculum enrichment, professional development and coaching to ensure that even the accelerated students are able to be challenged and engaged by their learning at their accelerated pace.

Meeting the academic needs of every student is the goal of every school. As a 21st century Catholic school in the Dominican tradition, our mission is to innovate, believe, inspire and serve each child that God sends to us. The School of the Madeleine has 317 students, serving 213 families in kindergarten to 8th grade.

During my first year as the vice principal of student services (2012-2013), I was overseeing the special needs program at the Madeleine. Working alongside my colleague, Curriculum Director Paula Rice, we found that our staff and parents were holding countless hours of meetings yielding pages upon pages of notes on student needs, with a structure that we found inefficient and counterproductive. As it was, the program did not fit in with the vision of our principal, Ken Willers, and the mission and philosophy of the School of the Madeleine.

As a team, we sat down to create a model that would reflect the mission of the School of the Madeleine. What we created is a shared vision for families, faculty and staff to meet the needs of every learner. In the two years since we implemented the program, we have seen teachers become more reflective in how and what they are teaching, more collaboration between families and teachers, fewer intervention meetings, and a greater self-awareness and advocacy in our students. The programs success is embedded in a team consisting of specialized professionals implementing a new approach and mentoring teachers in meeting the needs of every child at our school.

The ELP Team

Exceptional learners range from students with disabilities or other difficulties that prevent them from learning in the traditional model to students who do not speak English as their first language to learners who can move at an accelerated pace. The Exceptional Learner Program (ELP) at the Madeleine strives to assist and meet the needs of a diverse range of students to help them achieve academic success. The ELP team at the Madeleine consists of the vice principal of student services, a literacy specialist, a social-cognitive specialist and a curriculum director.

In our new model, I still oversee and coordinate the program by working with the specialists to provide the needed support for teachers, students and families. My primary goal is to focus the team on the school's mission and ensure that students are given every opportunity to achieve academic success.

Our curriculum director, Paula Rice, assists teachers by connecting them to professional development opportunities that serve their personal professional growth goals and the broader schoolwide or diocesan goals. She also serves as a mentor for new and veteran teachers by co-teaching and coaching through lessons and lesson planning. She is responsible for finding appropriate resources and materials to support student learning, guiding the faculty on reflecting on assessment and using data to improve instruction and student learning.

The school contracts with Communication Works (CW), a private practice that provides the highest level of speech, language, social and occupational therapy. Hanna Bogen is a speech-language pathologist contracted through CW to serve as our social-cognitive specialist. …

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