Supporting Students Through Innovative Partnerships
When people think of VIA, many think of our Day Schools. It’s true, we offer year-round Day Schools serving learners ages six to 22 on two campuses in Charlottesville, VA. What a lot of people don’t know is that we also provide outpatient services, including Intensive School-Based Intervention (ISBI). The ISBI program is focused on helping children succeed in their local public schools. To accomplish this, we provide in-clinic services to those students along with coaching and support to school staff. We’ve been partnering with central Virginia school districts in this way for five years. Here’s a look at some of our recent ISBI work:
Charterhouse School and Page County Schools
By the time Colton was in 8th grade, he'd been bounced around a good bit as his family and teachers searched for ways to address his needs. Colton engaged in severe challenging behaviors most of his day, including aggression toward adults and peers, self-injurious behaviors, disrobing, limited communication, and extreme food selection.
Eventually, his case manager with Page County Public Schools contacted Charterhouse School in Edinburg and Shonnet Brand at VIA to build an innovative program that would fit Colton’s unique situation. That was two years ago, and a lot has happened since then.
VIA has supported Colton’s teachers and paraprofessionals using remote coaching. Thanks to use of readily-available smartphone cameras and earbuds along with some creative thinking, VIA staff were able to provide real-time feedback and suggestions to those working with Colton, helping them see opportunities and provide the right kind of guidance to increase his success and independence. This approach not only helped Colton, it also grew the skills and knowledge of Charterhouse staff, growing local capacity to help other students.
Colton is now 16 years old, and he’s able to successfully participate in various community outings with his peers and instructors, including touring a local day support program, the Route 11 potato chip factory, WalMart, farmers’ markets, a zoo, and the community pool. Some of the staff members who were coached by VIA are now working toward their Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certifications, positioning them to help the local community for years to come. To show their gratitude, Charterhouse recently presented Shonnet Brand with their “It Takes a Village” Award, saying, “Your collaboration and commitment to our students’ education is inspiring and contributes to their success, safety, and well-being.”
According to Colton’s grandmother, “Colton is more independent. He now dresses himself, feeds himself using utensils, goes to bed, and uses the bathroom and washes his hands on his own. During a recent EKG appointment, Colton tolerated the procedure without any aggression and was finished within 15 minutes. His dad and I are so relieved since he started at Charterhouse. We know he is taken care of, happy, and worry free. He trusts the staff and they love him!”
Buckingham County Schools
In this partnership, VIA staff work with two pre-K students two days per week in our outpatient clinic—and support them and their teachers two days per week in their public school classrooms. This combination has enabled the students to access more intensive 1:1 ABA services, in addition to on-site speech, occupational, and feeding therapies.
This holistic approach allows VIA coaches to help teachers and students learn and maintain the skills they need to succeed. Buckingham teachers are coached specifically around techniques and plans that have been proved effective in the clinical setting, which allows for less guesswork and more time spent on specific and intentional teaching.
Albemarle County Schools
The VIA partnership with Albemarle County Schools (ACPS) takes a different shape. We’ve partnered with them since 2017 in various capacities. Most recently, we entered an agreement with their special education department to provide a specific number of service hours per year on retainer.
These services include direct coaching and support to their special education instructors as well as support to their students who may need more concentrated help. VIA Behavior Support Coaches also work in partnership with ACPS Behavior Analysts to ensure consistent programming and training while working to maintain in-house capacity.