The Muscogee County School District faced a growing dilemma —the demand for special education services was outgrowing its ability to fill the need. The Columbus, Ga.-based district experienced an increase in the number of students with significant social/emotional and behavioral deficits requiring intensive behavioral and mental health supports. Yet, the district also faced challenges in recruiting and retaining enough special education teachers and support staff to meet the students’ unique learning needs. Without the internal capacity to provide training and ongoing technical assistance to the teachers and staff, district leaders needed outside help to serve their special education students.
The ChanceLight Solution
The Muscogee County School District’s Program for Exceptional Students partnered with ChanceLight Education, a company dedicated to changing the direction of students’ lives by offering them the opportunity to create successful, independent futures. The two organizations collaborated to develop a continuum of services to provide students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) the intensive academic, behavioral and therapeutic services they require to make educational progress.
ChanceLight established 10 classrooms throughout the district, including three elementary school, four middle school and three high school classrooms. For students requiring more comprehensive services, a therapeutic day program was created to serve up to 45 students in grades K-12. Each classroom is staffed by ChanceLight with a certified special education teacher, instructional aides and behavior specialists to ensure an ideal student-teacher ratio.
Additionally, a behavior support team consisting of board-certified behavioral analysts, mental health therapists and a school psychologist assists all students and integrates the practice of applied behavior analysis (ABA) services with mental health supports. This dedicated, specially trained team provides direct supports to all students with social/emotional or behavioral needs by offering counseling as a related service, individual behavior assessment and interventions and social skills instruction. This comprehensive and proactive approach to promoting behavioral, social and academic success ensures a positive school culture and helps students achieve social and learning goals.
To ensure staff stays current in the latest educational best practices and feels supported throughout the school year, ChanceLight provides ongoing professional development and technical assistance, which has positively impacted overall staff retention.
To support students and their families outside the classroom, ChanceLight initiated a Parent University in collaboration with the district’s Parent Advocacy Center and the Program for Exceptional Students. The Parent University provides specific educational trainings and resources to parents to assist them in navigating and supporting their child’s education.
The Muscogee County School District has experienced an increase in the frequency and intensity of significant behavioral deficits exhibited by students, which led to our district’s development of an appropriate continuum of services to best serve their needs while ensuring a safe and productive learning environment for all. Given the unique challenges associated with staffing and training this continuum within our district, a representative stakeholder committee ultimately recommended ChanceLight as the clear choice to collaborate with our district in providing the social/emotional and therapeutic services need to support our students.
Anthony S. began the school year in a high school classroom in the ChanceLight-Muscogee Therapeutic Day Program. While enrolled, he progressed in all areas of his IEP and quickly stood out as a student leader. Within several months, he learned to tolerate disappointment, manage anxieties and appropriately advocate for his own needs. His IEP team soon recommended he transition to his zone school where he will finish his high school career with the appropriate supports and resources in place.
ChanceLight Education is a division of ChanceLight, Inc., the nation’s leading provider of behavioral health, therapy and education solutions for children and young adults.
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