Sierra School of SacramentoFaith Wetter2022-10-20T10:15:14-04:00
Sierra School of Sacramento
Sierra School of Sacramento is a nonpublic, special education school that serves students from K – 12th grade (ages 5-22). We utilize unique education models, an effective positive behavior management system, and multiple mental health techniques to increase academic awareness, develop social skills and cultivate proper classroom behavior in each of our students. Our goal is to work along side the student to improve academic and social success so that the student can return to a least restrictive setting. Our dedicated staff and teachers are committed to the growth and safety of each student. View our School Accountability Report Card (SARC) (Lower Sacramento) View our School Accountability Report Card (SARC) (Upper Sacramento)
Lisa joined the Sierra team in the Spring of 2013 as a 1:1 instructional assistant after graduating from Humboldt State University with a bachelor’s in social work in the Spring of 2012. She became a teacher in 2015 and taught both elementary and high school students at Sierra Lower. After teaching, she moved into a curriculum and instruction role where she trained teachers in assessment, curriculum, and instruction throughout the Northern California Sierra Schools. During this time, she earned her master’s degree in Education and her mild/moderate teaching credential. In January 2022, she began working permanently in Sacramento to create a successful merger of two campuses. She is thrilled to be a part of the growth of Sierra School of Sacramento. Her goal is to create an inviting and meaningful place for students to grow their social-emotional & behavioral skills as well as their academic performance. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her dogs, being outside and wake surfing.
Dustin Hefner, Director BEST Model
Dustin Hefner has been in the special education field for 18 years, with the past 4 serving as the Director of Sierra Lower School of Sacramento. He started his career as an after-school recreational technician before moving to the school program as a classroom and 1:1 aide. During his time, he worked as a lead instructional assistant, group home manager, head of training, and school administrative manager. He looks forward to continuing his journey, and looks for new and innovative ways to get his students the supports and knowledge they need to matriculate back to public school and ultimately lead the lives they deserve. Mr. Hefner lives in Sacramento with his wife, two daughters, and two dogs. He hold a master’s degree in business administration and is currently pursuing Board Certification in Behavior Analysis (BCBA).
Dana Braden, Associate Director Academic Model
Dana Braden joined SESI in September 2022 as an Associate Director for the Academic Model. Previously she served as Program Director and BCBA for another Non-Public School in Fairfield, California and San Jose, California. Ms. Braden obtained her B.A. in Psychology from UC Davis in 2008, certification as a BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) and M.A. in Teaching from Northcentral University in 2013 and obtained her Ed.S. (Education Specialist Credential), specializing in special education in 2022 from Northcentral University. She is has completed all required coursework for her Ed.D in Special Education, and plans to pursue research related to her mission of increasing positive outcomes for persons with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Ms. Braden has worked in the field of Special Education for 15 years and is committed to empowering all the students she serves.
Lincoln Dupree, Associate Director
Lincoln Dupree was born in Houston and moved to Sacramento when he was 12. It was challenging going from the country to living in Del Paso Heights, going from crawfishing and hunting to dealing with a lot of the negative peer pressure and stress due to the low socioeconomic town in which he lived. His mother encouraged him to find positive friends and signed him up for football for the Grant Rams. From there, Lincoln found an enjoyable hobby. The hobby turned into a passion and for the next 20 years, Lincoln played football and received a free education from Eastern Michigan University. After his playing career ended, Lincoln moved back to Sacramento where he fell in love with helping at-risk youth and helping staff work and support the at-risk youth. From a line staff in a group home to an administrator role, Lincoln has experienced a variety of roles and gained valuable experience at developing ways to support delicate youth. In the future, Lincoln looks forward to expanding that role to help support students outside of the school setting; foster care, homelessness, and abuse survivors.
Sarah Carden, BCBA
Sarah Carden, is a passionate behavior analyst who has been working with children with disabilities for over 10 years. The majority of her experience has been with children diagnosed with autism, providing ABA therapy in home. She looks forward to continuing to grow and learn as a BCBA. Within her role at Sierra School she hopes to support an already incredible team and develop innovative ways of helping students reach their greatest level of independence. She holds a master’s degree in teaching and is a board certified behavior analyst. Sarah lives in East Sacramento with her 4 year old son.
Teresa Vinciguerra, Therapist
Teresa Vinciguerra is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) who has been providing mental health services in the Sacramento area for seven years. Ms. Vinciguerra enjoys working with children of all ages and backgrounds and utilizes an integrative therapy approach, to improve the emotional and behavioral challenges of each student. She is passionate about providing developmentally appropriate individual and group counseling services to her students and loves to see each child grow and blossom into their own unique person! In her free time, Ms. Vinciguerra likes to hang out with her family, friends, and pets. Ms. Vinciguerra has been working at Sierra Lower School of Sacramento since 2019.
Nicole Curran, Therapist
Nicole Curran is a licensed marriage and family therapist, who graduated from Sacramento State University in 2015. Mrs. Curran was an intern at Sierra School during graduate school and was fortunate to come back as a full-time therapist. She greatly enjoys working with the diverse range of students to help meet their goals. Mrs. Curran provides a whole system approach by integrating various theoretical approaches. She enjoys working with individual and group settings. In her free time, Mrs. Curran loves to craft and spend time with her family.
Stacey Williams, Lead Transition Coordinator
Stacey Williams has worked at Sierra School since November of 2016, after relocating from Pennsylvania. She began working as a paraeducator before taking on the role of Transition Coordinator. Stacey’s main focus is to provide and motivate her students with the skills necessary to survive after high school. It can be overwhelming for anyone entering the “real world,” but factoring in a disability often intensifies that feeling. Stacey’s goal to prepare students for the unexpected. She is always looking for ways to better herself, so that she can better serve students – and that is why she decided to complete her degree which she expects to complete in March 2022.
Misha Renfroe, Transition Coordinator
Misha Renfroe is a Transition Coordinator at Sierra Upper School. Misha has a passion for working with children, teens & young adults with special needs as well as behavioral issues. She has been at Sierra School for over six years. Misha has worked as a Teacher’s Aid and has special training in Crisis Intervention and Harm Reduction. She also mentored at risk youth at the Wind Youth Services day center for a little over six years. Currently, she specializes in making sure that all students in Sierra have the tools needed to have a smooth transition into adulthood. She is blessed with two beautiful children, family, and friends. Misha believes that all students can overcome any & all obstacles with the proper guidance, and anything is possible with hard work and perseverance.
Laima Druskis, Transition Coordinator
For the past seven years, Laima Druskis has taught at Sierra School as a moderate to severe special education teacher, focusing on autism. Now, as a transition coordinator, she has two main exciting challenges. The first priority is to help each student use their unique learning abilities toward becoming self sufficient. The second, and the most rewarding, priority is to help students reach their goals of becoming a positive contributor to their families and community.
Rosalynn Liaiga, Behavior Support Specialist
Rosalynn was born and raised in San Francisco. At the age of 13, Rosalynn and her family moved to Sacramento in 2005. She graduated from Heald College with an A.S. In Criminal Justice and A.A. In General Education in 2013. She had the privilege of working with at risk adolescents as a Residential Counselor at a Treatment Group Home while attending college. She continued working there until she found her passion which is working with teens/children that are at risk and/or have special needs. Rosalynn has been with Sierra School since 2017 and has worked in roles that have challenged her in many ways. Having a big family that can relate has inspired her to want to continue working with students.
Felicia Facio, Behavior Support Specialist
Felicia Facio was born and raised in Sacramento CA. Felicia has been been working in the special education field for 17 years, with the past 6 years working at Sierra Lower School of Sacramento. She started her career in 2004 working with special needs children, teens and adults with emotional and behavioral challenges at a non-public school as a Teacher Assistant and 1:1 aide. That is when she discovered her passion for working in this setting and realized this is what she was meant to be doing. Outside of the school setting she also worked as an ABA therapist providing in home therapy in clients homes with children diagnosed with Autism. Felicia looks forward to continuing her journey and education at Behavioral University to better serve our students and looks forward to providing the best support she can to help with their growth and living the lives they deserve. Felicia has one daughter and three dogs and loves hanging out with friends and family on her spare time.
Students are referred by their school district to attend Sierra School and are generally in grades K–8 (aged 5 to 14). They face disabilities in a variety of areas, including Autism, Intellectual Disability, Emotional Disability, Multiple Disabilities, Speech and Language Disabilities, Other Health Impairments, Speech and Language Impairment, and more.
We are proud to employ certified special education teachers, marriage and family therapists, a speech therapist, and provide occupational therapy.
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.
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.
There are many Responsibility Club offerings at the Sierra School, among them: Student Government, Auto Club, Art Club, Lawn & Garden Care Club, Yearbook Club, and the Sports League. Clubs take a break over the summer, but they resume each fall, with participation levels higher and higher each year! Responsibility Clubs provide our students with a great opportunity to learn new skills in an area of personal interest to them while also allowing them time to get to meet and socialize with students from classrooms other than their own. Students can belong to a maximum of two clubs at one time and must be on green or blue level in order to attend the bi-monthly meetings. All clubs are interactive and designed and planned to accommodate the needs of our specialized populations.
The clubs also build a sense of community within the student body. Student Government, for example, is responsible for planning our monthly “Big Event,” whereas the Art Club might be responsible for providing the decorations. The different clubs therefore work together to accomplish a joint goal, and this kind of interaction and collaboration provides limitless—and priceless!—opportunities for our students to learn and grow. Overall, the Sierra School’s Responsibility Clubs give Sierra students a chance to participate in enriching activities while joyfully exploring their own personal strengths and preferences. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved!
Sierra’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 students will be:
At Sierra School, we believe it is never too early to create a concrete plan for generalizing the learning that takes place on campus to the greater community! Because a “transition” can happen at any time in a student’s life, all students participate in our Work Experience Program.
Our Work Experience Program encompasses many areas: classroom instruction, community-based instruction, links to support services. Specific examples include but are not limited to fieldtrips, guest speakers, independent living skills instruction, cooking, budgeting, organizing/cleaning, college tours, industry tours and much more! After being in our Work Experience Program, our graduating seniors leave with a transition portfolio, encompassing all their successes in this program.
Our Work Experience Program provides practical experiences and skills through on-campus jobs, in preparation for off-campus employment. Having firsthand work experience under their belts is a critical component of teaching students what is required to be a good and productive employee. For the 15th year in a row, Sierra was awarded a WorkAbility 1 grant to support our transition efforts.
Listed below are current/past on campus job opportunities:
Sierra Café/Culinary Program
Sierra Clothing Line
Special Events Organizing & Planning
WorkAbility 1 Program
WorkAbility 1 (“WorkAbility”) is a state program that was established in 1981 as a result of a successful two-year pilot study to help special education students gain work experience and skills. Its mission is “to promote the involvement of key stakeholders including students, educators, employers, and other agencies in planning and implementing an array of services that will culminate in successful student transition to employment, lifelong learning, and quality of life.” Sierra Schools began to participate in WorkAbility program in 1997 because of our similar philosophy – taking a holistic approach to educating students, and assessing each one as a whole, helping student reach their goals both on and off the school campus. As part of the WorkAbility Program, each student has a transition binder that is kept in the on-campus transition department. The binder holds a collection of transition-related documents and work that each student can use as a tool and take with them after they leave Sierra and enter the workforce.
What exactly is the WorkAbility all about?
WorkAbility promotes independent living and provides comprehensive pre-employment, employment, worksite training, and follow-up services for special education students who are making the transition from school to work, postsecondary education, or training. Specifically, WorkAbility provides special education students (aged 16–22) with the opportunity to complete their secondary education while also obtaining marketable job skills.
How is WorkAbility funded?
WorkAbility is funded by a federal grant administered by the California State Department of Education.
How does Sierra School personnel offer assistance to the students in the WorkAbility Program?
The school provides the following staffing in the form of a Vocational Education Team (VET) to implement the program: Transition Coordinators, Special Education Teachers and Job Coaches.
What does WorkAbility offer prospective employers?
Students who have been screened and prepared for employment
Ongoing monitoring provided by Sierra personnel
30–90 hours of training that can be subsidized by Sierra
Future trained employees who have proven themselves
What are the advantages to our students?
Job development/placement services
Support and encouragement from staff
Pay for job training
Opportunity to gain work experience
Assessments of vocational interests and skills
What are the possible outcomes/goals of participating in WorkAbility?
Students will obtain competitive employment
Students will become successful, productive, and contributing members of the community
Students build self-esteem through reinforced positive behavior
Our Therapy Department provides individual and group counseling for students struggling with emotional and behavioral management. Sierra School therapists are trained in a number of different modalities in order to best treat the mental health needs of our students. The goal of counseling in the school is to help students process strong emotions, gain insight, and teach skills that will assist them in achieving success in the academic environment.
Students attend groups focused on anxiety, anger management, social skills, art therapy, self-esteem, and music therapy. These groups, in conjunction with individual support, benefit a wide spectrum of disorders and disabilities. Our therapists work as a collaborative team with parents, school personnel, and outside agencies to best serve our students.