Students are referred by their school district or privately by their parents to attend Sierra Academy and are generally in grades 1–12 (aged 5 to 22). They face disabilities in a variety of areas, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, Mild and Moderate Intellectual Disabilities, Specific Learning Disabilities, Speech-Language Impairments, Emotional Disabilities, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Orthopedic Impairments, and Other Health Impairments
We are proud to employ certified special education teachers, who are certified through the Arizona Department of Education and have crisis intervention training. We have contracted services providers in counseling, speech, occupational and physical therapies.
Our sensory-based education model delivers a personalized and individual approach that builds confidence and competence. Our academic programs are available in one-on-one or small-group settings that especially help children who are challenged by overstimulated senses. Highlights include:
- Sensory-Based Education Model
- Emphasis on Communication Needs
- Interactive Rotational Tutorials
- Individualized Programming
- High School Diploma for All Graduates
At Sierra Academy, we reserve the morning for core academic instruction in reading, writing, mathematics, and language arts. Your child will participate in a schedule of 30-minute rotations, which keeps students focused and actively engaged with their learning material. Rotational sessions include:
- Individualized instruction
- Independent practice
- Supplemental instruction through computer-based software
Because reading is the essential skill that will allow students to continue learning over their lifetime, our teachers place great emphasis on this core subject, employing a variety of reading, spelling, and writing methodologies to help students establish the proficiencies critical to a strong foundation in language arts.
At every age, we stress mathematical reasoning skills, problem solving, analytical skills, computation, and calculation skills. Our balanced math curriculum focuses on the importance of problem solving in our modern, global, and technological age. By using incremental math instruction and incorporating time for practice, process and mastery of skills become evident.
By focusing on key areas — academics, behavior modifications, support services, and transition / life planning services — we are able to meet the individual needs of all students through these varied approaches to instruction. Through collaboration with a student’s IEP team, we are able to choose the most appropriate learning model based on a given student’s present levels of performance, social capabilities, motor coordination, and ability to learn in a group setting.
Utilizing four specific instructional rotations, students are assessed academically, gain self-regulation skills, learn with district-aligned academic curriculums, and utilize integrated technology.
Extended School Year for Summer Instruction
Along with our Regular School Year (RSY) programming, we offer extended instruction into the summer. Our Extended School Year (ESY) services provide academic interventions throughout the summer so that your child can work toward Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals with optimal continuity. Refer to our ESY calendar for current applicable dates.
Serving students with significant autism and developmental disabilities, our model takes learned skills and practically applies them to the multiple environments in which a student would use those skills. Students spends portions of their day rotating through different modalities of instruction, the length and the frequency of each rotation is individuality designed for each learner and based on their current skills and future goals.
Each student enrolled in the model has individualized behavior programming which is driven by Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBA). We aim to identify the behaviors that continue to disrupt our student’s ability to access their environment and learning. We then use the data collected from the FBA and classroom data to device strategies that get to the root function of the students disrupted behaviors.
Above all else, we want our students with autism to explore their full capacities and achieve their full capabilities heading into adulthood. Transition and life planning services pave the way for successful independent living, rewarding postsecondary schooling experiences, and productive and fulfilling careers.
Sierra Academy prepares your child for a variety of postgraduation pursuits, enrollment in technical/vocational schools, or employment in the workforce. We focus on workplace skills in the following areas:
- Life Skills Training: theme-based activities that teach students daily skills for living and socializing successfully
- Vocational Skills: coursework and both on- and off-campus activities that expose students to a wide range of trades and professions
- Career Readiness: students create a portfolio that contains grade-level-specific items and lessons such as:
- Interest inventory
- Work values
- Individual learning styles
- Resume writing
- Electronic debit card
Similar to our custom programs, our workplace skills development curriculum is ability-specific to your child. We use hands-on instructional practices and interactive learning methodologies delivered by a multidisciplinary team. Our diverse transition curriculum consists of numerous components that greatly appeal to your child’s interests and maximize engagement.
Social Skills Training
The special education teachers at Sierra Academy focus on helping students develop age-appropriate social and emotional skills, particularly those that relate to improving their classroom performance. Our teachers concentrate on the individual development of each student to increase self-esteem, heighten interpersonal relations, and improve scholastic achievements. Through the various activity-based lessons and training modalities we employ in our social skills curriculum, students learn how to work with others, make positive choices, accept responsibility, and peacefully resolve conflicts.
Physical therapy services are provided for students with gross motor challenges, postural problems, balance and coordination deficits, muscle weakness, decreased flexibility, and/or abnormal gait. Our therapists work on the foundational skills necessary for the performance of daily functional activities.
Language development plays an important role in clarification of the required skills of thinking, performing, and problem solving. Thus, each eligible student receives an individualized and synchronized speech program, created by our certified speech pathologists and concentrated on such areas as expressive/receptive language skills, speech production skills, auditory processing, pragmatic/social language skills, voice, and fluency. Engaging in appropriate topic-relevant conversations, establishing pragmatic problem-solving skills, improving decision making, utilizing appropriate vocabulary, and developing conceptual understanding are all components of the strategic instruction of Sierra Academy’s SLP (speech-language pathologist).
We meet the demands of our students’ environment through occupational therapy, which assists sensory, perceptual, and motor skills. Our therapist works directly with the children on foundational skills for motor planning, sensory processing, organization, and visual motor integration. Integration of OT within the classroom by our core teachers ensures that each student’s therapy plan complements their responsibilities outside the therapy setting in everyday experiences.
Promoting positive school behaviors and the development of appropriate social skills form the basis of our school-wide Behavior Management System. Through this multifaceted program, students learn to demonstrate positive behaviors that facilitate greater academic successes. Implemented by staff trained in crisis intervention and behavior modification, our behavioral program capitalizes on students’ feelings of personal significance and self-management abilities.