How does education continue in a non-traditional school setting like a treatment center? This is a question that is often posed by parents when considering residential treatment for their loved ones.
At McCallum Place, we have been doing our own form of distance learning long before it became the norm in 2020. One of the things that sets us apart is our multifaceted communication system between school, parents, patient and treatment team. Our teachers act as liaisons between the patient and their school by communicating on a regular basis with counselors and teachers. Individual needs are addressed and materials are modified to ensure student success in our adaptable educational environment. We connect with our families early in the admission process and maintain that communication throughout the treatment step down from residential to lower levels of care. The teachers meet with therapists of all adolescents twice weekly to address student needs and well-being. But most important is the connection that we make with each student. We provide structure and support in a small group setting that lends itself to 1:1 support when needed. Our classroom environments are bright and spacious areas that are conducive to small groups and individual work.
Our students have a dedicated school morning that runs from 8:30 a.m. until 12:20 p.m. with a break from 10 – 10:30 a.m. for snack, with additional time in the evening to dedicate toward extra study hours. Each morning Monday through Friday, students are able to log into their home school’s account for synchronous and asynchronous learning, depending on their school’s plan. Regardless of the current learning platform that the patient’s home school has adopted, their learning will be supported while in treatment.
Whether the student’s home school is currently doing online school or meeting in person, the process is very similar. Upon admission, a member of the educational team meets with the new patient and their family to obtain school information, class schedule, extracurricular academic activities, special learning needs etc. We inquire about IEP’s or 504 plans which might be in place, to ensure that appropriate accommodations are provided and followed. A Release of Information (ROI) is scanned to the school in order to initiate contact, usually with the school counselor, and communication is maintained with teachers via email throughout the student’s treatment stay.
If the student is in a local public school, we discuss the possibility of homebound services. If homebound services are requested, the education team completes the necessary paperwork and sends it back to the student’s home school or Special School District office. We also coordinate the scheduling of homebound providers or private 1:1 tutors if needed.
By now, the school year has begun and the students are well into the process of online learning. We meet with the student to understand their schedule and determine whether the school is doing a synchronous or asynchronous class plan. If the synchronous classes are held during the mornings, then our students will be able to attend with the exception of their morning snack time. Because therapy is the priority at McCallum Place, live classes that conflict with the therapy schedule cannot be attended. Thankfully most schools are recording live classes and our students can access them in the afternoons during their study hours from 4:30pm – 6:00 pm.
All students are asked to bring their own laptop to McCallum Place, as well as textbooks, folders, notebooks, ect. We supply all other school supplies and have regular access to the local library if supplemental reading materials are needed. In the case that the student needs additional instruction that is beyond our collective scope, we have private tutors that we can refer to for support.
The transition to McCallum’s online learning platform is aided by the support of several teachers, as well as extra support staff if needed. Our teachers are Nancy Anderson, BS Elementary Education MO certification K-5, Karen Mac Wallach MA Educational Technology, MO certification in Social Studies and Math 5-9, Julie Rami MA Curriculum and Instruction, MO certification 1-9, and K-12 Special Education, Catherine Lien, MA Communication with emphasis in Spanish, MO certification for Math and Spanish, K-12.
The McCallum Place teachers collaborate with the patient’s treatment team to gain a better understanding of challenges that may impact their learning and to ensure the whole patient is supported. Our individualized and supportive education program is a priority to aid in a successful transition back to school after treatment.