Partnering for Success: Expanded Pupil Services
Students come to school with a variety of academic, personal and social needs that can affect their learning, and their education experience may be impacted by both internal and external challenges. Some students in our schools have disabilities that qualify them for special education services, while others may have issues and challenges that affect their learning but may not meet legal criteria for special education. Both types of students may struggle in school, and as a result, are at risk for a lack of future success. However, students who experience difficulties in basic areas of learning and behavior, regardless of the cause, may thrive with the assistance of a learning support program.
To address the needs of struggling students, St. Mary Catholic Schools developed a collaborative K-12 pupil services system to offer learning support. At the elementary level, our SMCS Learning Support Team includes learning specialists, a reading teacher and counselor. At the middle and high school we have learning specialists and counselors. The pupil services program established a formal K-12 system that addresses the changing needs of individuals over the course of their K-12 academic career. The academic services offerings operate in tandem with the well-established comprehensive counseling program, which provides vocational, college-prep and guidance counseling services to SMCS students.
Through the collaborative services program, learning specialist professionals work as a team in partnership with teachers, administrators, parents, families and community members to meet the needs of each identified student in the areas of reading/literacy, math, language and behavior. Students do not need a formal disability diagnosis to access support through this program, which addresses significant learning difficulties, mild intellectual disabilities, language disorders or delay and behavior needs. Students with autism spectrum disorders or mental health issues may also be supported through these school-based resources.
The goals of the SMCS Collaborative Pupil Services include increasing academic achievement; helping students become confident, caring, and contributing citizens; and providing comprehensive, coordinated, integrated and customized assistance in a timely manner. SMCS strives to create an environment to achieve these goals, where families, classmates, educators and community members work together as partners to create a supportive and respectful learning environment.
Pupil services professionals use a variety of strategies that fall into one (or more) categories to help students reach their maximum potential. They include assessment, screening, and evaluation; individual and small group counseling; home-school partnership, classroom instruction; collaboration and partnerships with community-based systems; services for staff; and program and resource development, management, and evaluation.
When a student’s needs directly affects their ability to learn, our educational staff, led by the learning support team, works collaboratively to do everything we can to meet the challenge, and help all students to succeed academically, social and emotionally.