Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two Schools in Two Days

A2Z is often invited to open house events in Southern California to learn about and tour local non public schools. As these opportunities are made available to us, we will post to let you know about schools in your community and how they may be appropriate for your child.

Last week, I had the pleasure of touring two different schools in Los Angeles County: The Pacific Schools & Aviva High School

1. The HELP Group's Pacific Schools

: 15339 Saticoy Street, Van Nuys, California

What makes it unique: The Help Group's Pacific Schools are actually made up of 3 specialized programs: Pacific Ridge, Pacific Harbor and Project Six. In the Pacific Ridge and Pacific Harbor program, which are therapeutic day programs, the class size averages about 10 students with 2 adults. Various services, including family therapy, psychiatric services, counseling, speech and language services and Occupational Therapy are available on site. The Pacific Schools serve elementary, middle and high school aged students.
  • Pacific Ridge is a day program serving children and adolescents with special needs in the areas of emotional, behavioral and neurological challenges.
  • Pacific Harbor is for students who internalize their feelings, such as depression and anxiety, and may display mild behaviors. This program is also appropriate for students with emotional disturbances that require more intensive and comprehensive mental health services.
  • Project Six is a residential treatment center for adolescents with emotional and behavioral challenges.
Is it appropriate for your child? The Pacific Schools may be appropriate for your child if he/she has emotional disabilities, behavioral disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, significant behavioral challenges or internalizing disorders. It provides a safe environment for students who were previously bullied at a typical school due to their differences, and who now show internal or external behaviors.

What I love about this school:
The staff at the Pacific Schools place a strong emphasis on finding individualized incentives that are of interest to its students and using those things to help the student access his/her education. For instance, if your child is interested in playing instruments, sewing or guitar hero, these things would be made available as an incentive. For each program, there were "reward lounges" where students could play games, watch TV or use the computers. The importance of incorporating a child's interests into his/her program was a universal message across all three programs at the Pacific Schools. I believe that it was for this reason that the Pacific Schools had a personal touch where the personalities of the children were very evident.

2. Aviva High School

Where: 7120 Franklin Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046

What makes it unique:
Aviva High School is one of the few all girl, non public schools in Los Angeles County. Aviva also has a residential treatment program that has 42 students enrolled in the high school. Aviva provides a range of on-site clinical and educational services. Aviva also offers a mandatory 6 week summer school program designed to enrich and broaden the students' reading, writing, and math skills and prepare them to pass the California HIgh School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). Aviva High School has a maximum enrollment of 84 students. The maximum student:teacher ratio in class is 6:1. Over 95% of its students go on to post secondary programs, including universities and junior college.

Is it appropriate for your child?
Aviva High School is appropriate for girls in grades 7 through 12 who need special academic, emotional, or behavioral support to maximize their educational potential. If your daughter requires a dual enrollment program, then Aviva may be the appropriate placement for her.

What I loved about this school
: It was very clear that the staff at Aviva were dedicated not only to its students, but were also dedicated to working on improving the bureaucratic system that can often be an impediment to special education students. The staff at Aviva have forged relationships with individuals in the LAUSD system that are in charge of making important decisions, and are working with them to try to evoke a change in the system. This passion was not only present at the administrative level of Aviva, but was also apparent through the teachers, aides, and even hallway monitors at the school.

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