Shine Bright Initiative
In September 2017 we made the debut of our groundbreaking Shine Bright initiative. Unique to the Philadelphia area, Shine Bright integrates occupational therapy into the everyday classroom experience. This program builds on our academic strengths with the team approach that sets Stratford apart. Our Speech-Language and Occupational Therapists, School Counselor, and Teachers all work together seamlessly to implement best practices from each into all aspects of every student’s day. This powerful approach helps students celebrate and build on their strengths, increase their self-esteem, and develop self-advocacy as they become strong, independent learners. Together, we create a nurturing environment where students’ inner lights don’t just shine, they SHINE BRIGHT.
Supporting our mission of educating the whole child, our School Counselor, participates in Shine Bright for every team. As part of that program she provides explicit instruction in social emotional skills during her weekly class and sees small groups and individual students as needed.
Our School Counselor in conjunction with our Speech and Language Therapist works weekly with all of our teams to deliver our social emotional curriculum. This class incorporates elements of Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking Program and aligns with our mission of teaching the whole child. Students become problem solvers who are equipped to deal with daily social and emotional challenges. All students participate to support their own social-emotional wellbeing as well as that of their team. Using structured and guided activities, cooperative games, role play, stories, and problem-solving, students learn and practice skills in class with the goal of generalizing to real-life situations.
Starting at the appropriate developmental level, students identify and work on specific individual goals, learning to self-monitor progress throughout the year. The program’s goals are centered around themes of self-awareness, self-advocacy skills, and recognizing and respecting others’ feelings and perspectives. Students also learn pragmatic communication and friendship-making skills, problem-solving strategies, and tools for self-regulation.
Speech & Language
The speech & language philosophy of Stratford Friends is unique in integrating speech and language support in whatever setting, academic or social, where students encounter communication demands and challenges. Several research studies suggest more progress is made in speech and language when it is integrated across settings. This also helps our Speech-Language Pathologist, Barbara Coaxum, to work more efficiently and effectively with students and staff and as part of the Shine Bright program. Barbara assesses each student’s needs formally and informally with input from the rest of the team. She designs interventions to facilitate each child’s ability to access the curriculum and facilitate all students’ learning. She monitors progress and stays in close, direct contact with teachers, other therapists, and families.
With the Shine Bright program, Stratford Friends students receive therapy individually, in small groups, and through our integrated whole classroom instruction and classroom push-in models.
Students also receive help with social communication skills using a variety of pragmatic social communication approaches including Social Thinking. Students who know how to effectively communicate socially become more functional across more settings, helping them to improve and increase social participation, social relationships, and academic achievement.
In 2017, as part of the Shine Bright program, Stratford Friends added Occupational Therapy and a Sensory Room to our support services. Occupational therapy and sensory rooms have been shown to enhance sensory skills and hand-eye coordination; help develop social and emotional skills; reduce tension and anxiety; and improve concentration, alertness and awareness. Our sensory room will give our students opportunities to regulate their sensory systems and receive individualized therapy to facilitate their learning in the classroom.
Our Occupational Therapist works closely with classroom teachers and other therapists to assess each student’s needs formally and informally. The Occupational Therapist works with each child to improve their ability to access the curriculum and facilitate all students’ learning. The Occupational Therapist monitors progress and stays direct communication with classroom teachers, therapists, and families
As part of the Shine Bright program, students receive therapy individually, in small groups, and through our integrated whole classroom instruction and classroom push in models.
Occupational Therapy interventions at Stratford Friends are evidence based and address:
- Fine and gross motor coordination
- Handwriting and typing skills
- Visual perception and perceptual motor skills
- Sensory processing and modulation
- Adaptive behaviors, including making transitions and self-regulation
- Organization of self and materials
- Adaptations to educational materials and the classroom environment
Stratford Friends School is proud to be a participating Responsive Classroom® school. The Responsive Classroom® approach was developed by teachers, and is based on the idea that children learn best when they have both academic and social-emotional skills in a strong and safe school community. Practical classroom practices at the heart of this approach include:
- Morning Meeting
- Rule Creation
- Interactive Modeling
- Positive Teacher Language
- Logical Consequences
- Guided Discovery
- Academic Choice
- Classroom Organization
- Working with Families
- Collaborative Problem Solving