We are extremely proud of the Academic department at Daniels Academy. We are an accredited High School that is specifically designed to meet the needs of students with a learning disability of pervasive social challenges, including, but not limited to those with the diagnosis of:
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Nonverbal Learning Disorder
- Anxiety Disorders
- Pervasive Development Disorder
Tailored Academics for Young Men with a Learning Disability
We believe that our students often have great-undiscovered potential. Many times school has not been a “safe place” for them to learn and grow. Our teachers and academic staff strive to create a safe environment for our students to try new things, express their thoughts and feelings and become excited about learning again.
The Daniels academic program balances individual and group instruction. Whenever possible, subjects are taught with a hands-on tactile approach. Students spend time in the community on field trips to discover new applications of personal interests. Subjects are integrated into one another to help students make connections between fields of study and to expand existing interests.
Each student has an individualized plan in meeting their academic needs. This individualized approach, along with year round schooling, makes it possible for students to recover credits if needed. With a strong focus on executive skills and personal mentorship, the academy strives to help students learn to manage thoughts and behaviors related to each young man’s learning disability that have previously interfered with success in school.
We believe that one of our main purposes is to help our students find and develop their strengths and interests. Some of our students have experienced failures in their past school experiences. Because of their learning disability, they often come to our school with anxiety and are afraid they will fail again. We have highly trained teachers and academic support staff that know how to individualize the curriculum for each student, challenge each student, and then offer enough support for our students to experience success.
We are interested in our students experiencing deeper learning, not just memorizing for tests and forgetting information the following year. Our students are often visual learners and we tailor our classes to accommodate all learning styles. Our class size usually ranges from five to ten students. Daniels Academy offers all classes that a student needs to graduate from High School in Utah.
How We Address the 4 Pillars through Academics
At Daniels Academy we have chosen to build curriculum and learning around four pillars that we as a staff feel are vital to our student’s growth. We offer academics that are tailored toward individuals with learning disabilities and differences such as Nonverbal Learning Disorder, ADHD, and Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
At Daniels Academy we believe that for our students to be successful both in their work and their personal relationships they must learn to collaborate and interact with others in a thoughtful and respectful way. In our school we spend time on many activities to build these skills. Some of our learning takes place in the context of a classroom discussion. Students are expected to listen to other’s perspectives and give their own in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Teachers are well-versed in creating social norms in the classroom that are explicit.
When things happen that are outside the expected norms we find perfect teachable moments to inject social skills. We also have norms for small group work and project work. Traditionally this type of work has been difficult for our students. We believe that whatever time we take to teach collaboration is time well spent.
We have group therapy sessions during the school day where we also address social learning and discuss how things are going socially and talk about new skill sets to improve their social relationships. We give out an award each week for our student who showed “random acts of kindness”, as well as our student who was a “good friend to other students”. We place heavy emphasis on social learning in our school, making it a priority every day.
In our school, we try to create an atmosphere that is comfortable both physically and emotionally for our students. If a student is feeling over-stimulated by the sounds of project building in their class, we try to recognize this before it becomes problematic. We work with the students in their advisory sessions and in group therapy to teach them ways to effectively advocate when they feel their emotions are beginning to run high, and they are not comfortable in the setting they are in. This is incredibly valuable for students with learning differences like Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder.
Each teacher works with an average of 10 students in a class assisted by an academic coach who helps support the learning environment and process. If one of the students is having a hard day it is not unusual for an academic coach to take that student for a walk outside and try to problem-solve or just have some quiet regrouping time so that they can return to class in a more positive space.
Sometimes students will find themselves in a conflict with another student in the classroom. We use a restorative justice curriculum to talk through these conflicts in private and find solutions relative to the conflict at hand. We find that most of the time the conflicts between our students come from misunderstandings in their communications and the restorative justice circle gives them a venue to clarify the meanings of their words and an opportunity to repair hurt feelings.
We try to create scaffolding in our academic program that will enable our students to be successful in their classes. Each student has an academic advisor they meet with on a weekly basis. They bring to their advisor a form, which they have circulated to all their teachers. On this form will be information about how they are currently performing in each class. With their academic advisor they will celebrate their successes and create goals for the areas in which they need improvements.
Our goal is to have our students find effective ways to organize themselves and their schoolwork that will transfer into their next educational setting. We work with students on discovering what works best for them to keep up with their assignments. We have small tasks for them each day: bringing their backpack home and back to school each day; arriving at the school prepared with writing tools and paper and whatever else is needed for their classes. We are constantly working to find new and creative solutions that are individualized to each student’s needs.
Daily Living Skills:
Although much of the work on Life Skills takes place in the residential setting we also focus on Life Skills Development in the school. Each day our students are expected to have some type of a physical workout during the school day. The students walk to the local gym and have a number of different options to get some movement and recharge for the rest of the day. This facilitates the practice of self-care for our Autistic Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, and Nonverbal Learning Disorder (among other differences) students.
We believe this healthy life skill is one that can benefit them throughout their life. We offer Health classes to address some of the Life Skills that we feel our students can benefit from in creating a healthy lifestyle. Our students are expected to arrive at school clean, and dressed appropriately. Every Friday we have an academic field trip.
We attend museums, businesses, non-profit organizations, and all types of community venues that can augment what they are learning in their classrooms. During these field trips there are often many opportunities to teach Life Skills. In different contexts our students are taught to behave in different ways. These are Life Skills they will need wherever they should go after their time at Daniels Academy. After these field trips they have an opportunity to process what they learned in a group therapy session. We want to make these days an important part of their growth and maturation.