Over the years, God has blessed us with professionals who are trained to be especially attuned to the needs of students who struggle to adjust to the rhythms, expectations, or processes in our ECA academic setting. We have had counselors, psychologists, literacy coaches, nurses, speech and occupational therapists, English as a second language and special education teachers, among others, who are part of our team and who use their unique and specialized training to support our students to reach academic and behavioral goals. These specialists also help teachers and parents grow in their skills to be perceptive and creative in finding ways to support students who may need different perspectives or different methods to reach grade-level objectives.
At ECA, we work with a 3-tier system, where select students are placed on a certain level based on testing and staff observations.
- Students in tier-1 need very minor adjustments, and this is done completely within the classroom setting.
- Students in tiers 2 and 3 need more direct support that comes in a variety of forms, both within the classroom and with individual support or with small groups outside the class. These students are assigned case workers as their advocates to assure they receive the accommodations and support they need for success. Regular meetings are held with the grade-level team to monitor progress and to make any necessary ongoing adjustments.
Thinking back over different students who have been blessed to have one of our specialists come alongside them as they grow in language, academic and/or social skills, I am so grateful for this team. I have seen students take baby steps, as well as dramatic leaps, in relational skills as well as in academic abilities. The extra motivational support and specific suggestions for alternative learning routes by the specialists can make a huge difference in how students tackle their daily challenges. Our professionals not only give advice on methods or routines that will make learning more attainable, they also serve as cheerleaders who encourage and inspire our students who need to work harder to reach the same goals that other students seem to reach easily.
On this recent recruiting trip, I was reminded again of the privilege of having the insights and perspectives of these professionals to guide in the journey to help our students grow. Interviewing a new probable special education teacher in TX, who clearly feels God calling her to join our ECA team, I am thankful for individuals who are champions for those who struggle in our classrooms, but with appropriate adjustments, can find success. The heartbeat and passion these specialists bring to our team to help ALL students succeed truly helps us reflect God’s vision for a healthy body, where each member is valuable and necessary. Though school may be more challenging for some students than others, it is ECA’s desire to help each one overcome the hurdles and learn the necessary life skills to not only survive, but to thrive and live the abundant life that God offers us.