Sierra School of Alhambra

Sierra School of Alhambra stresses the development of internal controls and personal responsibility for one’s behavior. Normalcy is expected; competency is stressed. Teachers strive to become trusted people whose guidance, limit setting and criticism are eventually seen as nurturing, helpful and supportive. They work to build the self-esteem and improve the self-image of students. Teachers provide direction, orchestrating activities and discussions which encourage exploration and experimentation.
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Our Students

Students are referred by their school district to attend Sierra School and are generally in grades 2–12+ (aged 8 to 22). They face disabilities in a variety of areas, including Specific Learning Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Other Health Impairment, Emotional Disability, and more.

Our Staff

We are proud to employ certified special education teachers, ProAct trained staff (crisis intervention), behavior technicians, a speech language pathologist, an occupational therapist, and more.

Set in the revitalized Main Street District of Alhambra, the school serves the Los Angeles Unified School District and several other school districts in the nearby San Gabriel Valley.

Sierra School of Alhambra resides in a beautiful, safe neighbor-hood with access to nearby parks. Sierra itself has a gymnasium and a grassy playing field. Our program provides weekly individual counseling to all students. Speech therapy and occupational therapy are available when needed. Transportation is provided by the school.

Sierra is a small special education therapeutic day school serving several different groups of students. The common ground among all students is that they function best in a highly structured setting as opposed to a large mainstream public school. The small class sizes and adult to student ratio allows the adults throughout the school to get to know the students on an individual basis. The students at Sierra all have behavioral difficulties and social/emotional issues with which they need help. The staff consists of special education teachers, counselors, and a speech and occupational therapist. Students are placed in an appropriate classroom conducive to their learning style and needs.

At Sierra we believe that the IEP team, which includes parents/guardians, determines the educational needs of each student; data collection is one of the ways we can track progress. Through the guidance of BCBA trained staff, the aides are able to apply specialized instructional techniques. Behavior goals are tracked and data driven through the use of a data collection system known as Catalyst. It is this data that helps drive the classroom instructional goals. It tracks behavior and IEP goals broken down into various skills to enable students to acquire the steps toward achieving their goals, maintain them through practice throughout the day, and generalize the skill in various environments.

Our school philosophy looks to empower students who are non-verbal with communication disorders by applying a Total Communication System in the classroom. We empower our students who are non-verbal with Functional Communication Training and Picture Exchange Communication System to enable them to interact within the classroom environment and in the community. We focus on skills such as functional living skills, basic hygiene, functional reading, functional math, and community based instruction. We apply, within each classroom, assistive communication systems in the instructional environment for those students who can benefit from the use of such devises determined by an assessment done by districts. We teach Life Skills using hands-on experiences when opportunities are available.

Sierra school staff are experienced in all aspects of special education. As a team, classroom staff and administrators collaborate to provide the best educational environment possible. One of our many goals is to treat every student to explore his/her environment, make choices throughout their day, communicate their needs and wants, and to feel nurtured, safe, and secure.

Sierra School’s Elementary Learning Center’s goal is to provide consistency and accountability. The daily point sheet gives student constant feedback on their performance and behavior. Our Elementary Learning Center is located in a separate part of the campus to avoid influences of older students. The Elementary Learning Center offers:

• Dynamic, experienced, and committed staff

• State standard academics

• Behavior intervention and modification

• Group and team building

• Social activities through games and sports

• Field trips to enhance learning

• Class project to reinforce lessons

• Parent conferences

Students enter the classrooms each day knowing the expectations of academic performance and appropriate behaviors. Every student takes part in group each morning to determine their behavioral goal for the day. Throughout the day, students are encouraged and reinforced to attain the goal they set for themselves. At the end of the day, each student has the opportunity to rate him/herself as to how well they accomplished their goal, promoting self awareness.

Middle and High School Programs offer a comprehensive special education curriculum for students with individualized education programs (IEP). The students attending this program have behavioral and learning disabilities. Each classroom becomes its own community, supporting and guiding each other. All members of the class make decisions as a group, like deciding how, when, and where the class will take a field trip. Classroom rules are determined with the input of all members of the class, holding students accountable and responsible for their actions. Services include:

• Standards based curriculum

• High School diploma / college prep.

• Academic achievement

• Academic remediation

• Vocational / Transitional Services

• Sports / Clubs

• Work experience

• Speech and language services

• Counseling

• Therapeutic component consisting of motivation and goal attainment

• Problem solving

• Self esteem building

• Study skills

• Behavior feedback and modification

Sierra’s Single Gender (female) Educational Program’s goal is to empower our young women and help them develop a sense of self. The Single Gender Program is located in a separate wing of the school and offers:

• Guidance in making better decisions and taking responsibility for decisions made

• State Standard Academics

• Behavioral and social development and guidance

• Celebrating successes

• Problem solving groups

• Mediation groups

• Team / Group planning

• Field trips to enhance learning

• Class projects to reinforce lessons

Without the usual distractions of a co-ed classroom, the girls see themselves as capable, productive, and empowered. This model allows our female population to flourish rather than having to compete with the attention drawn by their acting-out male counterparts. The program provides a much desired alternative for many girls, as the special education population tends to be dominated by boys.

Sierra’s Developmental Center offers a comprehensive special education day program for students with moderate to severe global developmental delays, including those associated with autism. An experienced staff of professionals provides a wide range of learning opportunities that foster growth in all essential areas. This educational and therapeutic program promotes:

• Life Skills

• Communication skills

• Social skills development

• Organizational skills

• Self esteem

• Task completion

• Self regulation / behavior management

• Consumer / vocational skills

• Group / team building

• Academic skills development

The curriculum is highly individualized, hands on and designed to address IEP goals and specific student needs. Class size is small with high teacher to student ratio. Independent and semi-independent living skills training are one of the core components of the program. Students are prepared to develop communicative, daily living and job readiness skills.

Sierra’s Developmental Center offers a comprehensive special day program for children with Intellectual Disabilities who may also be on the Autistic spectrum with varying developmental delays. The school specializes in dealing with students who have both behavioral and emotional issues. We have a dedicated staff that is trained in using various Applied Behavior Analysis techniques.

Founded in behavioral science, SESI’s CASE (Considerate, Accountable, Safe, Engaged) approach uses a multi-tiered, positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS)* framework to increase socially appropriate behaviors for all students in our standalone schools and in-district classrooms, regardless of their behavioral needs. We define what it means to be considerate, accountable, safe, and engaged across all settings, and use these expectations to guide all aspects of behavioral support.

CASE
Students and staff are considerate of their environment, themselves, and each other. Everyone is treated with kindness, patience, and respect.

ACCOUNTABLE
Students and staff are accountable for their actions and own their behaviors by taking responsibility for their decisions.

SAFE
Students and staff are safe and engage in behaviors that keep themselves and others secure and calm.

ENGAGED
Students and staff stay engaged and complete tasks and activities when asked. Everyone takes pride in their work and gives their best effort.

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.

Our PALS (Partial Academic and Life Skills) model is an individualized hybrid of our Academic Rotation model and our BEST (Broad-Based Educational Services and Therapies) model. Students in this model receive customized instruction and programming based on their individual needs. For example, some students focus more on academic instruction, while others may require more intensive BEST programming involving life and social skills. Depending on their assessments and individual needs, students will always receive a combination of both models within a PALS learning environment.

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