The work of the Skills and Academic Support Department (SAS) provides an additional level of support for students who have faced challenges to learning in the content areas. The SAS curriculum focuses on the teaching of academic skills and strategies that may be content specific or geared to academic life in general. Our learning specialists possess particular expertise in helping students to enhance their executive functioning skills, including organization of materials and assignments, time-management, and planning and prioritizing.
SAS is taken as an actual scheduled class, meeting during the academic day three times a week as part of their normal schedule. Each seventy-five minute class includes a lesson of approximately twenty-five minutes in which strategies and study skills, such as note taking, textbook reading, test preparation, computer literacy, and problem solving, are taught. Approximately fifty minutes of each class is reserved for students to work on their assignments in the various content areas. Because these classes never exceed a 4-to-1 student/teacher ratio, our learning specialists are able to address individual needs and to create a safe learning environment in which students are able to practice new skills and strategies without undue pressure.
The primary objective for all students who enroll in SAS is to become independent learners who understand their own learning styles and who can advocate successfully for their educational needs as they prepare to move on to higher education.
Until students gain this level of self-sufficiency, our learning specialists often advocate for their students, serve as resources for their families, and collaborate with their students’ content area teachers. Especially in the ninth and tenth grades, the SAS curriculum mirrors the curriculum in the content areas. For example, providing support in the winter trimester for the writing of a history research paper, and in the spring for the science fair. In the 11th and 12th grades the curriculum is defined by the individual goals of each student, and the class setting encourages students to seek help as needed from one of two teachers or to cooperate with their peers; this approach is designed to encourage students to transition to the greater level of independence and self-advocacy that will be required in college.