By Lauren Buffum, Educational Support Services Director
At Living Stones Academy we believe that every child is made in God’s image. Consequently, one of our main responsibilities as educators is to affirm their dignity and worth, and to come alongside each student to help them flourish as children of our Heavenly Father.
Toward that end, Living Stones offers a wide variety of support services so that we are able to serve students with academic, social, emotional or physical challenges.
Whether your child needs support services for a short time or for the duration of their time here, we are dedicated to helping them reach their full potential.
This commitment to serve students well goes beyond words. Over the past ten years our board and staff have made many decisions to support this kind of learning community:
- Set limits on class sizes so that teachers have an opportunity to get to know each student well.
- Prioritized hiring a full-time Educational Support Services (ESS) Coordinator.
- Built into the budget three full-time paraprofessionals, and one part-time interventionist who provide academic, behavioral, social, and emotional support.
- Implemented a social skills curriculum taught to all students by general education teachers, and reinforced by ESS support staff (Second Step).
- Recruited two mental health professionals who are in the school weekly to provide individual counseling, consultation, and lunch buddies (where students receive social coaching).
- Secured funding for two Title I tutors who provide academic support in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics.
- Implemented a response to Intervention (RTI) framework to ensure that all students’ academic and behavioral needs are addressed.
- Adopted inclusive practices, including circle of friends and universal design for learning.
- Entered into a partnership with All Belong to learn from one of the leaders in inclusive education.
- Pursued Federal Title I and Title II funding that now contributes in funding highly qualified tutors and ongoing professional development for our staff.
- Raised funds for professional development for teachers and staff in order to improve teaching and learning.
- Pursued an ongoing partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools that provides students who qualify with Speech and Language Therapy, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Social Work services.
- Hold regular Student Success Team meetings between Educational Support Services coordinator and general education teachers.
- Conduct nationally-normed testing (Aimsweb) three times each year that allows our teachers to monitor student progress and to identify areas of need.
- Added further assessment in all areas of reading, writing, and mathematics to provide feedback on instruction for students identified within RTI.
- Offer students with a diagnosed disability, or developmental delay one-on-one or small group instruction in their area of difficulty.
Some students with identified disabilities may need an alternate list of goals and objectives. These goals will be established by the ESS Coordinator in collaboration with the classroom teacher and families. The student’s report card will reflect these goals and objectives.
If you have any further questions or would like to discuss our services in more detail, please contact the school directly.