Sierra School of Peoria2024-06-14T09:18:23-04:00

Sierra School of Peoria

The foundation of Sierra School of Peoria’s (formerly Aurora Day School) therapeutic program is to empower students to implement resiliency skills coupled with a structured environment of positive behavior management. Using the extensive research done on resiliency in the last twenty years, our goal is to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of exceptional children. By helping them learn the core traits of resiliency, they build social competence and problem-solving  skills, increase their self-reliance, and encourage their sense of purpose and future.

  • (P) 623.209.1000

  • (F) 623.209.1001

  • 8155 West Thunderbird Road, Suite 101A, Peoria, Arizona 85381

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Our Students

Students are referred by their school district to attend Sierra School of Peoria. Our students are generally in grades K–12 (aged 5 to 22). They face disabilities in a variety of areas, including Autism, Emotional Disability, Developmental Disability, Speech Language Impairment, Mild/Moderate Intellectual Disability, Orthopedic Impairment, Other Health Impairment, Specific Learning Disability, and Multiple Disabilities.

Our Staff

We are proud to employ certified special education teachers who are training in crisis intervention, Counselor that offers individual, group and family therapy, contracted service providers for Speech, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy.

The Resiliency Based Positive Behavior Management Program combines two approaches that are strength based and focus on bringing about behavioral and emotional changes in children and young adults. Positive behavior management establishes a foundation for immediate behavioral changes while the Resiliency approach seeks to build qualities that bring long-term success. There are seven core resiliency factors used: Initiative, Creativity, Humor, Morality, Insight, Relationships, and Independence. Teaching these core factors enables students to build their confidence, sense of future and purpose. While most students are involved in small group or individual counseling sessions, all students have the opportunity to be involved in equine and canine therapies that allow the students to interact with the animals one-on-one.
The Sierra School of Peoria curriculum is aligned with Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards and incorporates daily lesson plans for instruction. All instruction is based on grade-specific curriculum and the goals identified in a student’s IEP, utilizing accommodations and modifications as indicated.

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.

Classroom activities are a blend of engagement through project-based learning, group and cooperative activities, one-to-one mentoring with teachers and ed techs, the use of technology, and interactive learning. Specials, such as art, music, and PE, enhance the students’ social and emotional skills. Morning and afternoon recess are important to students to allow for movement and social interaction.

Every student is tested using the iReady adaptive diagnostics upon entering our program. Ongoing assessment procedures include quarterly iReady, formative and summative curriculum-based assessments, and teacher observations, as well as all student participation in the standardized assessments required by the state of Arizona. Individual Education Programs (IEPs), Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs), and Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) are developed in conjunction with the District Special Education Director, service providers, and parents.

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.

Sierra School of Peoria prepares students for life beyond graduation. The goals is for each student to find a balance between independence and interaction in the workplace and society. Programs include: College Prep Services, Resume and Portfolio, Job Interviews, Job Shadowing and Coaching, Vocational Tracks, Simulated Workplace environments, on-campus and off-campus job placement.

College Prep Services: During the school year we have multiple activities that get our students involved with there secondary post education goals, such as college. We actively surveys parents and students which helps us align their needs and expectations for college. We scheduled college tours with our in-state colleges and trade schools. We also invite guest speakers from college recruitment centers to come talk and speak to our students.

Job Interviews: Sierra School of Peoria runs mock interviews as a lesson plan for all high school age students, as well as interviews for on-campus jobs. There has been times were students wanted more practice before they start looking for jobs and we gladly accommodate last minute practices and rehearsals for them.

Job Shadowing & Coaching: Our high school staff and Transitions Coordinator work to provide job coaching on campus as well as off site at another location when available. Our Coffee Cart is supervised by our staff who walk students through appropriate customer service procedures and present real-life scenarios (i.e. difficult customers, busy hours etc.) which allows our student employees to improve their problem solving skills.

Vocational Track: Sierra School of Peoria has partnered up with Gate Way Community College to provide our students with a Customer Service Certification on campus program at ADS. We also use OdysseyWare vocational courses during our online curriculum time on campus.

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Student Spotlight


Hilary McDonald
Sierra School of Peoria
2022-2023 Regional Winner

Joselin Ortiz
Sierra School of Peoria
2022-2023 Campus Winner

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