Students are referred by their school district to attend Sierra Academy and are generally in grades 1–12 (aged 6 to 22).They face learning disabilities in a variety of areas, including speech-language, auditory processing, central auditory processing, sensory integration, social skills deficits, neurological issues, or other health impairments. Additionally, they often come to us with low self-esteem related to previous school failures.
We are proud to employ certified special education teachers, staff trained in crisis intervention, Speech-Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Counseling, and even a support dog named Barley!
At Sierra Academy, we want students to experience success in the classroom as quickly as possible. We start by helping the child master achievable academic skills and problems. Once the child reaches that level of attainment, they get more excited about learning. Gradually, we introduce more challenging material—never overwhelming the student, but always continuing their development. In this way, children are able to feel successful in the classroom—some for the first time. That academic success translates into a healthier self-esteem, which in turn gives the student the confidence to aim for higher levels of achievement. The student learns to trust and feels supported enough to risk taking on new learning challenges. In our experience, this approach helps reverse the negative image that many children have of themselves as students when they first arrive.
Sierra Academy of San Diego works to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment for students who need an alternative setting to achieve their potential. We follow state and district requirements and have the capacity to create highly individualized curriculums for optimum student success for all our students.
Our school program includes:
- Occupational Therapy & Sensory Integration
- Speech-Language Therapy
- Small Class Sizes
- Small-Group Instruction / Specialized Programming
- Social Skills Training
- Counseling Services
- Life Skills Training
- Schoolwide Behavior Management Program
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.
Sierra Academy has a WorkAbility grant, which gives us the opportunity to place students at various job sites in the community. We work individually with the students to find job sites in the community that fit their areas of interest and also match their ability level. Students are paid for their hours worked through the WorkAbility grant. This allows them to understand/practice working in a real-life job/career settings. Students are placed at a variety of different work sites, including On the Border, REI, Walgreens, Snapology, Petco, True Value, Smart n Final, Afect, and Parkway Bowl. The end goal of the program is to develop the students’ employment skills and social skills in order to maximize their success in the real world.
Sierra Academy’s Transition/Life Skills program is designed to prepare high school students to enter the community by using a hands-on, interactive approach to real-world learning. Students are exposed to basic life and vocational skills, many directly in line with their IEPs (Individualized Educational Programs). The students explore these skills through a theme-based program. Students are responsible for creating their own portfolio, which includes such items as a current résumé, sample job applications, mock interview questions, a library card, and a California ID card. The Life Skills program at the Sierra Academy utilizes “experience-based learning,” which stresses direct participation in order to increase motivation, acquisition, and retention of the skills being taught.
Sierra Academy offers many courses and a program to prepare our student for various post-secondary options.
This elective course is offered to all 9th–12th graders. Students earn 5 elective credits for this class, and the course is designed for students working toward their diploma. Students will be exposed to life and vocational skills, and these skills are directly in line with the students’ Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Students in the program will be responsible for creating their own portfolio, which will include such items as résumés, sample job applications, mock interview questions, industry tour information, community outing reflections, planning guides, and a library card.
Adult Career Transitions (ACT) Program
This is a full-time class offered to high school students aged 18–22. Sierra Academy’s innovative transition program works to support students in their academic studies while still helping them learn about themselves and the real world. They will receive a life skills based curriculum that is directly in line with their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Students who are in the ACT Program will have the opportunity to participate in work experience. Students will continue to get in-class academic instruction, as well as community-based instruction, which will help students generalize skills outside of school. The students involved in the ACT Program will have an opportunity to explore on-campus jobs, community jobs, internships, and volunteer experiences. Students in ACT also utilize community facilities to help them focus on a healthy lifestyle.
This program is geared toward students who are still in the process of completing their credits for a high school diploma, but also need some of the critical skills taught within the ACT Program. Participating in this program allows them an opportunity to finish up their credits while also gaining valuable community-based experiences that are provided in ACT. In addition, we support students in preparing for college by helping them complete college applications, connecting them with DSPS, supporting online college courses, etc.
Career Experience Opportunity (CEO)
This course is designed for 10th–12th graders who have completed at least one year of the Life Skills elective class or students who are enrolled in the ACT Program. The students who take this course are dually enrolled in one of our world readiness programs. The students will begin exploring on-campus jobs, internships, and volunteer experiences. Students will be responsible for appropriate attire, arriving on time, completing a time card, and garnering an above-average performance review. While students are participating in these activities, they will also be reviewing career/job-oriented curricula. This may focus on job retention, job safety, interviewing skills, self-advocacy skills, and self-reflection.
Sierra Academy’s goal is to build the confidence and competence of children facing learning, language, and social challenges through personalized academic interventions. Sierra is committed to achieving success with each student even in the face of obstacles, challenges, and excuses. The program is geared toward preparing youth to become responsible adults who are able to participate in their communities and lead self-fulfilling lives. We aim to build each student’s skills and self-esteem to a level that allows them to return to a mainstream school and become fully functioning members of society. In order to achieve this, Sierra has developed the following expected school-wide learning results. Sierra Academy students will be:
The Sierra Academy Wolves have the opportunity to participate in flag football, basketball, and softball. Participating in the sports league is an amazing way for students to practice leadership and positive sportsmanship with their peers. All middle and high school students are welcome to join the Sierra Academy Wolves on the field! Please visit the CAPSES Sports League website at http://www.sdcapsesleague.com/ for more information.
Sierra Academy thrives to provide opportunities for our students to grow and discover their strengths. We offer a full theater program, student driven clubs, student government, sports, art courses, student internships, and much more!