LEARNING SUPPORT AT SKS
SKS strives to provide an inclusive learning environment where students of all abilities can thrive academically, socially and emotionally. We believe that every student deserves to reach their full potential and recognize that some students may require assistance beyond the classroom to meet that potential. As such, we strive to ensure that the appropriate support systems are in place at SKS to promote each student’s success.
This year, through a grant provided by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Rising Together Alliance, SKS welcomed experienced learning support teacher, Mrs. Lauren McCracken, to our faculty. This newly created position will provide a centralized learning support program at SKS, while expanding the learning support services available to our school community.
“Lauren’s role will be multifaceted and evolving since this is a new experience for us as a school,” said Principal Bud Tosti. “We will learn and grow together as school. We are very happy to have Lauren with us.”
Learning support is available to students across all grade levels who may need a differentiated approach in the classroom. Students needing additional support may be identified based on teacher and parent observations, classwork, assessments, and standardized test scores.
When learning support is needed, an Instructional Support Team (IST) is formed to provide the framework for the student’s education plan. The IST typically consists of the classroom teacher, learning support teacher, principal, and parents. Using a team approach, the IST works together to identify a student’s needs, set goals, develop an intervention plan specifically tailored to the student’s educational goals, and monitor the progress of the student. The goal of the team is to provide specialized support to both the student and teacher that helps the student overcome their challenges and achieve success in the classroom.
Depending on the individual needs of the student, a variety of instructional methods can be utilized to help achieve their goals, such as push-in classroom instruction, small group or one-on-one pull-out support, or a combination of both.
In addition to playing a key role on the IST, Mrs. McCracken provides weekly classroom support in the areas of mathematics and English Language Arts. She also works with younger students during reading circle and writer’s workshop to build a strong foundation in literacy, while assisting students experiencing difficulties to advance their skills.
Learning support has proven to be a valuable resource for classroom teachers as well. Through consultation and collaboration with the learning support teacher, classroom teachers receive additional support to help identify and facilitate a successful learning environment for students with learning differences in the classroom.
The positive impact of this collaborative approach can be seen throughout the school. Together with kindergarten teacher Mrs. Adria Crowley, Mrs. McCracken introduced a fun and engaging sensory walk, which is located outside the kindergarten and first grade classrooms. The walk is a colorful and engaging series of stations where students complete guided movements or simple tasks when they need to take a brain break or get their jitters out. The walk takes a few minutes to complete and has proven to be a great tool to help students calm down, refocus, and return to the classroom ready for new learning.
In collaboration with the second grade teachers and the Delaware County Intermediate Unit (DCIU) reading support teacher, Mrs. McCracken introduced a new systematic reading and phonics program, Wilson Fundations®. The program is taught along with the existing English Language Arts curriculum and provides an integrated and comprehensive approach to reading, handwriting and spelling. The program has benefitted students in a positive way, as they have fun while learning important foundational skills.
“The additional learning support that has been provided by Mrs. McCracken this year has been invaluable!” said third grade teacher Mrs. Anne Bondi. “Lauren McCracken’s expertise in providing supplements to the curriculum is also very helpful by increasing the students’ exposure to an expanded variety of teaching strategies to meet each student’s individual and/or different learning styles.”
At SKS, we believe that each child is a unique person, loved by God, each possessing their own unique abilities, gifts, and challenges. We are committed to providing a welcoming environment where students of all abilities can thrive academically, and we strive to provide them with the support and tools necessary to become successful life-long learners.