Sierra School of Solano County
Students come to Sierra School of Solano County to foster their academic, social, and emotional learning while having fun. We focus on self and social-awareness, self-management, building relationships, and making responsible decisions. Our school motto has always been our guiding force: “We work together, we win together.” This simple principle has helped our students make their environment more enriching, while providing support and encouragement to their peers. Sierra Solano’s goal is to create and nurture lifelong learners who can succeed in both school and society.
- (P) 707.453.6227
- (F) 707.453.6957
- 1745 Enterprise Dr.
Fairfield, CA 94533
Meet The Team
Jenelle Droke, Director
Jenelle Droke is the Director at Sierra School of Solano County. She started at Sierra in 2007 as part of the therapeutic team, later becoming the Lead Therapist. She had the pleasure of serving as the Clinical Director beginning in 2012, supporting the Day Rehab program. In August 2019, she stepped into the Program Director role. Ms. Droke holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling and School Counseling, both from California State University Sacramento. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and has a PPS Credential.
Ms. Droke has been working in Special Education since 2000. She is passionate about our students at Sierra School and enjoys seeing the progress made as they learn new skills and strategies. She is exceptionally proud of the Sierra School staff and their tireless efforts to provide a safe, fun learning environment for their students. Teamwork is essential to our success and she values the close collaboration Sierra School shares with school districts, families and other service providers.
Frank Nalawagan, Associate Director
Frank Nalawagan is the Associate Director at Sierra School of Solano County. He began as a Teacher’s Assistant in 2008 and became the Associate Director in 2017. He has a Masters of Psychology from the University of Purdue. He enjoys working with students to achieve their academic and social skills goals. Over the years, he has watched many students graduate or transition back into public school – a fantastic experience that he will never get tired of experiencing.
Melissa Barlow, AMFT
Brian Quaife, AMFT
Sydney Vanderpool, Transition Coordinator
Jessica Lopez, Transportation Coordinator
Wendy Travers, Administrative Assistant
Shanin Abrams, Administrative Assistant
Joseph Petruzzi, Speech Therapist
Sierra School of Solano County was founded in August 2007. From the moment the Sierra School opened, we have collaborated with local districts to provide individual and effective educational strategies to help our students meet and exceed their personal and academic goals. Our goal is to create and nurture lifelong learners who can succeed in both school and society. Our first student graduated high school with a full diploma in December 2007. Since then, many of our students have either graduated from high school or transitioned back to their home schools. Typically, at least 10% of our student body is in active transition back to their comprehensive school sites.
Our students are creative and active in our school activities and environment. Students come here to learn, work hard, and have fun. At the Sierra School of Solano County, our school motto has always been our guiding force: “We work together, we win together.” This simple principle has helped our students make their environment more enriching and challenging while providing support and encouragement for their fellow students.
Students are referred by their school district to attend Sierra School and are generally in grades K–12 (aged 5–22). They face disabilities in a variety of areas including Autism, Emotional Disability, Intellectual Disability- Mild to Moderate, Other Health Impairment, and Specific Learning Disability
We are proud to employ certified special education teachers, a mental health specialist, a mental health therapist, we provide speech therapy, and all staff are Pro-Act certified (our crisis intervention model)
Utilizing four specific instructional rotations, students are assessed academically, gain self-regulation skills, learn with district-aligned academic curriculums, and utilize integrated technology.
Traveling Sports: The Sierra Panthers
Coach Frank heads our Sierra Panthers sports teams. The focus here is on simple athletic basics and teamwork. Students learn how to get along and work together to compete against various others schools in the city league. This program allows student to compete off-campus in individual games and tournaments. The Sierra Panthers sports teams include: softball, basketball, and flag football.
The Sierra School of Solano Student Ambassador program was created to provide leadership opportunities to middle-school and high-school students. School staff and leadership recommend students in the fall and spring with an eye on those who best represent Sierra School of Solano County. Once nominated, each selected student must fill out an application, obtain references, and sit for an interview with school leadership. The Sierra team works one-on-one with each student to prepare them for this exciting yet challenging experience.
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
- Candle Shop
- Sierra Clothing Line
- Student Store
- Van Crew
- Janitorial Services
- Special Events Organizing & Planning
- Sierra Swag
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
Sierra School of Solano: Day Rehab is a one-of-a-kind intensive mental health program integrated with the academic component offered on the Sierra School of Solano County campus. Through a collaborative effort, students are referred to us by local schools districts and Solano County Mental Health, then they must meet specific criteria and progress through the IEP process before placement in one of our Day Rehab classrooms. Our students have intensive mental health needs that are impeding their academic success, so the goal in placing them in our program is to help them achieve academic and mental health success.
Mornings begin with a community meeting, during which goals are set for the day, current events are discussed, and any other topical and relevant information is related. Journaling is another daily activity, in which our staff provides a journal topic and the students then spend time writing about that topic. Not only does this serve as a forum for our students to express themselves, but it also provides a means by which the mental health team can learn about, assess, and follow up on any issues students may feel uncomfortable sharing verbally. At midday, we hold a process group, during which a variety of topics are addressed and focused on, such as problem solving, coping skills, anger management, social skills training, relaxation techniques, and stress reduction.
Each student receives an individualized treatment plan based on diagnosis and mental health team recommendations. Plans are reviewed annually with the student’s family to monitor progress and set additional goals. Our students benefit from having continual and consistent support from on-campus mental health and educational staff. Both teams seamlessly integrate their efforts and are fully dedicated to the best interests of our student body. As a united group, we assist students in reaching their ultimate goal of returning to the public school setting. Most often, we transition them in small steps from the Day Rehab program, like moving them from one of our classrooms to one without direct mental health support. This allows both the student and his/her support team to see how well they do without additional support at school and whether or not they will continue to receive supplementary treatment from the county mental health department or another authorized provider identified through the school districts or SELPA. Once each transition step is successfully taken, further transitional measures are undertaken en route to full reintegration to public school.
Each Day Rehab classroom is staffed by a mental health specialist who remains in the classroom the entire school day to provide mental health support and to perform additional specific functions. A registered or licensed therapist is also assigned to each classroom, to provide support and individual therapy on either a weekly or as-needed basis.