The High Road School of Baltimore County seeks to build student confidence and competence through personalized attention and instruction, as well as to prepare our students to be independent, successful adults. We achieve these goals through the three main components of our specialized model: Academics, Behavior Interventions/Counseling, and Transition Services.
Students attending the High Road School of Baltimore County work toward transitioning back to a less restrictive environment and/or pursuing a Maryland high school diploma or Certificate of Completion.
Our academic component focuses on individualized instruction based on student needs and the county curriculum. Students receive instruction in small-group and one-to-one settings, with time for independent work and computer-assisted instruction. Our behavioral/counseling component features a schoolwide behavior management system with built-in incentives and rewards for positive behavior, including field trips, participation on sports teams, and weekly arts and crafts activities. Students have access to their school social worker outside of scheduled services as needed. Our transition programming incorporates functional life skills as well as career awareness and readiness skills. Many of our students exit the program with referrals to job resources in the community through programs like DORS (Division of Rehabilitative Services).
The High Road School of Baltimore County offers a wide array of services for students, including certified special education teachers, a reading specialist, staff trained in crisis intervention, school social workers, in-home and/or family therapy, a school psychiatrist, speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. The school also provides Maryland High School Assessment and Bridge Plan preparation.
High Road students have the option to participate in a high-interest, self-directed classroom that focuses on career preparation, and they are given the opportunity to take part in several community service projects offered throughout the year, such as Adopt-A-Road, volunteering at soup kitchens, and participating in a recycling program. We have athletic teams that compete in football and basketball, and an academic team that competes with other High Road Schools in the region. Furthermore, our students enjoy additional extracurricular activities, like our regionwide Fine Arts Festival, where students display a variety of talents, from drawing to performance art.
Parental involvement is a critical part of our education program, and parents are encouraged to contact the school at any time. High Road staff contact parents/guardians on a weekly basis to discuss student progress and address any family concerns or topics of interest. We also send out a monthly newsletter to parents to keep them apprised of all notable events at the High Road School of Baltimore County.
All of the programming that is designed to transition the student from school to work emphasizes preparation for productive employment after graduation. To make this employment as successful and fulfilling as possible, we help the student explore his or her interests and then build upon natural talents in choosing possible career paths. As students mature, we encourage them to gradually become more self-reliant. Our Transition Services staff aids in this process by giving the students just the right amount of independence and interaction with the wider community, while still providing the supports necessary for the students to feel secure and confident.
Our School-to-Work Program offers students the opportunity to participate in true-to-life jobs within the school setting. The end goal of the program is to develop the students’ employment skills and social skills in order to maximize their potential for success in the real world. As such, students seek to obtain jobs by first filling out an application and interviewing for the position they are interested in, as they would in real life. Once the student obtains a suitable position at school, they are held accountable for their attendance and performance, so we work with them on such aspects of employment as punctuality, responsibility, and working independently. Many of the jobs the students procure involve our student-run, on-the-premises retail business. Students participating in the School-to-Work Program are trained to operate many of the state-of the-art machines that make customized products for sale through this retail business.
The High Road School of Baltimore County affords students the opportunity to take their learning outside of the classroom and transfer it into the community. We work with our students to practice the proficiencies they have mastered in the School-to-Work Program, and then, when a student is ready, a job coach accompanies them to volunteer or paid job sites out in the community. We partner with a wide array of local-area businesses (including restaurants, hospitals, preschools, and retail shops) to expose the students to real-life work experience and social interactions. In this way, students can explore numerous career avenues and gain valuable work experience to list on their résumés.
The High Road School of Baltimore is committed to providing services, programs, and activities that provide opportunities for students to grow both inside and outside of the classroom. As part of that commitment, our school has been participating for several years now in a sports league comprised of other schools in SESI’s Maryland North Region. The league gives students a chance to interact with kids from other regional schools and to show school pride in their own.
Throughout the school year, we compete in three sports: (1) flag football in the fall; (2) basketball in winter; and (3) volleyball in spring. Each sport has its own play-off and crown champions for the season. In flag football, the play-offs are conducted in bowl format, similar to the NCAA. Naturally, we have our own form of March Madness to crown our basketball champions.
Participation on these sports teams allows our students not only to cultivate athletic skills, but also to gather experience and learn critical lessons in such areas as teamwork, collaboration, and good sportsmanship. Playing sports in our league is a highly sought after activity on campus, so only green-level and blue-level students who have demonstrated sound judgment and good decision-making skills in school can participate in practices and games.
Each year, all the schools get together for a Sports Banquet at which the students are celebrated for their athletic performance and sportsmanship. All participating students receive a participation award at the banquet.
CCBC Single Step Program
We are proud to announce that three of our high school students have been accepted into the Single Step Vocational Training Program with the Community College of Baltimore County! Single Step offers specialized programs ranging in length from two months to two semesters that prepare high school students for potential careers. Two of our students will be participating in the Clerical & Office Skills Program, and one will be participating in the Professional Animal Workers Program. Each program also offers internship opportunities to provide students with hands-on experience in each field.
The Role of the Reading Specialist: In My Own Words
By Nicole Zaph
The position of Reading Specialist can play a number of different roles in a variety of school settings. This position is found at all levels, from elementary through high school, private and public schools. Sometimes the Reading Specialist serves as a coach for classroom teachers and at other times as a one-on-one intervention teacher with the students. In my position at SESI, I wish to fill both of these roles as intervention teacher and coach.
The students who meet with a Reading Specialist are most often recommended by their classroom teachers or administrators. These referrals are based on discrepancies between potential ability and performance, or reading skills that are far below what would be expected. When a student is referred, further testing is completed to determine the most effective course of action. I use a variety of assessments, such as the QRI-IV (Qualitative Reading Inventory, 4th edition) and vocabulary and phonics surveys. These assessments allow me to identify whether a student’s weaknesses are in decoding alone, comprehension, or a combination of both.
Following the individualized nature of our school programs, I am able to decide upon a plan with the classroom teacher that best meets each student’s needs. This may come in the form of individualized intervention in phonics utilizing one of a number of research-based programs, or as supplementary activities to assist the classroom teacher. If a student has strengths in phonemic awareness but weaknesses in comprehension, the plan for that student’s individualized sessions will reflect that.
Some of the programs utilized in our schools are: Edmark Reading, Orton-Gillingham, and Wilson Reading. Each of these is a research-proven program that addresses the “Big 5” areas of literacy: (1) phonics; (2) phonemic awareness; (3) fluency; (4) vocabulary; and (5) comprehension. Through such programs, students receive intense, individualized instruction in identified areas of weakness.
It is our responsibility as educators to ensure that students have the opportunity to reach their potential. It is my wish that all of our students find independence in their reading and that this independence helps them reach their goals.