The guidance program at Center School addresses the whole child through its Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. This program is as integral a part of our program as our academics. It upholds our mission and presents students with a clear avenue in which to take full advantage of our academic curriculum. The lessons are differentiated to support students’ challenges, leverage their strengths, and guide students in developing the skills necessary to manage their learning, themselves and their relationships.
What We Teach
Our Motto: We are Respectful, We are Responsible, We are Ready to Learn, is the foundation from which our theme, communication, and behavior guidelines are built.
- This year’s theme, You Choose the Road to Take. Where Will it Lead You? supports our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. Our theme is the vehicle through which we teach concepts and strategies to help our students become their best selves. Roads to progress are not necessarily easy. The roads will be bumpy and curved, and many times involve a hill or two. Students will often come to forked roads, and one of our goals is to empower them to make the best choice. If they find themselves going down the wrong road, they learn that they have options to get back on track. We do not expect our students to do this alone as they have a whole roadside assistance crew – teachers, coaches, counselors, and families – providing support. As our students build roads to new learning, they will be empowered to persevere, and self-advocate, when their road is bumpy.
- Mindfulness and Movement exploration and instruction are integral parts of the foundation of programming provided to our students. In its most basic form, Mindfulness is helping students notice what is happening here and now. Mindfulness helps students develop and strengthen their ability to focus, recognize and manage emotions, decrease stress and anxiety, and provide a means to notice self-criticism and develop an intrinsic self-worth. Through a multimodal approach, this life long practice teaches students that rather than react to life events, they can respond from a more thoughtful place.
- Brain Plasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change and adapt as a result of experience. Students are taught that the brain will modify its connections or rewire itself and encourages students to “train their brains” through learning, making mistakes, effort, persistence and grit. They have the power to change their brains!
- Grit and a Growth Mindset is an unstoppable combination that empowers our students to utilize the language and behaviors enabling them to learn new skills and strengthen existing ones. Bouncing back from adversity and persevering through challenges encourages students to overcome their obstacles, whatever they may be.
- Demystification is the process by which students begin to notice, understand, and appreciate their strengths as well as their challenges in order to want to use appropriate strategies. When students understand who they are as learners and combine this knowledge with grit and a growth mindset, they know how to strive to be their best selves.
- Executive Functions are the cognitive abilities and processes that control and regulate most of what we do every day. Executive functions are neurologically-based skills involving mental skills and self-regulation that students need in order to function independently. For many of our students, these executive functions do not come naturally, so they are explicitly taught during whole class guidance lessons and also woven into day-to-day activities.
- Our Pillars of Character from the Character Counts National Coalition helps weave our community together. Students at Center School are taught what it means to be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring and good citizens, and they are encouraged to embody these characteristics in and out of the school.
When and How We Teach
- Developmental Guidance Lessons are taught school-wide and provide an effective educational approach which focuses on interpersonal skills, metacognition, emotions, character education, grit and a growth mindset, as well as executive functions with emphasis on self-advocacy.
- Small groups provide opportunities for students to come together in a small setting to practice social skills and positive interactions. Typically led by the counselor, they include lunch bunches and individual or small group meetings, and are scheduled as needed. Small groups may be teacher, parent, or student initiated.
- The Student Break Room (SBR) is a teacher-supervised room where students can visit for short periods of time when they require a mind or body break. The goal of the SBR is to help students regain focus and attention and return to the classroom as quickly as possible to receive instruction and maximize learning. The room is designed so that it can support the evolving needs of the students.
- Child Study Meetings are a collaborative approach to discuss, share, and monitor students’ academic, social, and emotional progress. The child study team, which includes the Head of School, counselor, and the student’s team of teachers, continually reevaluates the strategies and accommodations that aid in optimal student progress. Information from the student’s educational evaluation and teacher input are discussed which helps educators create personalized accommodations, interventions, and strategies to leverage the student’s strengths in order to support the student’s challenge areas.
- Student Services include occupational therapist interns from the University of the Sciences who provide basic occupational therapy services, and a speech clinician from the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit (MCIU). School psychologists from the MCIU may administer psychological evaluations and consultations. Psychological evaluations are typically requested by the parent, and the MCIU makes the determination for approval.