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St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy is a licensed, private K-12 school dedicated to providing a positive, safe and nurturing learning community. St. Stephen’s has three Western Pennsylvania locations — Zelienople, Sharon, and Utica. School districts may refer students online by completing our online referral form.
The students and staff of St. Stephen’s Academy collaborate using the framework of our Sanctuary certification, School-Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and the School as a Society model. Every interaction with a student is an opportunity to help them learn, grow and heal. Furthermore, St. Stephen’s Academy promotes growth through educational and therapeutic activities with an outdoor classroom, as well as utilizing the plants and animals at Glade Run Adventures.
School Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS)
School districts place students at St Stephen’s so that the child can benefit from therapeutic interventions in an educational setting. St. Stephen’s has been recognized in the past as a model program in Pennsylvania for School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports.
Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture and needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary (school-wide), secondary (classroom), and tertiary (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results (personal, health, social, family, work, recreation) for all youth by making targeted misbehavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.
St. Stephen’s is recognized by The Pennsylvania Positive Behavior Support Network (PAPBS) n for high fidelity implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS), publicly distinguishing school wide sites for successful implementation of PBIS. In 2017, St. Stephen’s Lutheran Academy (St. Stephen’s) in Zelienople, PA was one of 18 schools across the state – and one of only four schools in the western region, and the only private school – to earn implementation with fidelity at all three tiers of PBIS.
School as a Society Model
School as a Society is a simple concept that imagines our school’s organization as social natural supports to reinforce accountability through family and community relationships.
Each teacher and teaching assistant thinks of their class as a family unit and involves students in the development of the classroom to be more like a home. This includes responsibilities and opportunities to develop goals, incentives, and decorations that encourage a positive educational experience. Each class has a small sanctuary space in the classroom that serves as an area used to calm down or take a break when stress interferes with learning. This area within each classroom helps to manage everyday problems that surface.
In addition, each classroom has a sister classroom with whom they develop a relationship similar to an extended family or relatives. These two classrooms work together to provide support, solve problems and have fun together: like an extended family!
Tiered Academic Supports
With an innovative curriculum and an excellent student to teacher ratio, St. Stephen’s Academy offers enriched learning opportunities for every student:
Autism support classrooms provide a highly specialized environment to teach and strengthen positive social skills development. Facilities include a sensory room, gross motor room and model apartment. Students with autism thrive when education is creatively tailored to individual learning styles and the environment is responsive to sensory differences.
In addition to the universal interventions, our autism support education program provides:
- Implementation of Applied Behavior Analysis strategies
- Specially designed classrooms with an 8:2 student/staff ratio
- A program philosophy that emphasizes positive social skill development woven throughout the entire school day
- Consultation and trainings including on site supervision from Glade Run’s Director of Autism and Rebecca Klaw, a nationally recognized expert in the field of autism
- We employ a full-time social skills specialist to teach weekly lessons to the students in the classrooms
- Sensory exploration provided in a state-of-the-art sensory room designed to expose students to various sensory stimuli. Activities strengthen, balance and develop the central nervous system’s processing of sensory stimuli
- Gross motor room focusing on the strengthening of proprioception and vestibular skills through movement activities
- A model apartment with full kitchen and laundry facilities for experiential life learning as well as ongoing opportunities for students to assist with preparing small, social meals promoting skill development in activities of daily living
- A therapeutic animal program which integrates social skills, self-confidence, and responsibility
- A therapeutic horticulture program that is used for hands-on science and math activities as well as developing recreational, vocational, and job-related skills
Special education focuses on individualized instruction to teach students with academic, behavioral or physical needs beyond those met by a traditional regular educational program.
Enhanced education further supports students’ specific needs in academics, socialization, and/or emotional regulation. Individualized instruction with a lower student to teacher ratio results in a more hands-on approach with targeted behavioral interventions.
Therapeutic tertiary classrooms provide a structured and controlled educational environment for high school students who need intensive therapeutic and behavioral interventions. This often includes mentoring, peer modeling and personal development to encourage positive behaviors. Groups meet to support topics like anger management and to recognize potential leadership qualities in their members.