- Our focus is improving outcomes for all students by providing an integrated approach addressing each student’s unique academic, behavioral and social/emotional needs in a safe and supportive learning environment.
- We are approved by the Maryland State Department of Education and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in the District of Columbia and adhere to State and District standards and assessments.
- We promote a team approach which values cooperation and collaboration and involves students, school personnel, parents and the community.
- We provide job embedded professional development that contributes to a highly qualified, dedicated staff.
The elementary program serves students in grades 1-8 at our Gaithersburg campus and K-8 at our Largo campus. School personnel work as a team to improve student achievement, reduce problem behaviors and improve overall social/emotional well-being. Students are instructed at their individual level based on their Individualized Educational Programs (IEP) and ongoing assessment data. Teachers and therapists use evidenced-based strategies to actively engage students and increase their success rates in school.
The focus of instruction is on the Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards in reading, language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education and social skills. Academic instruction combines a strong emphasis on basic skills as well as higher order thinking. Teachers also use standardized measures to determine appropriate instructional levels and to assess student progress. Throughout the school year, teachers monitor progress towards students’ IEP goals and use data to make instructional decisions for maximizing student progress.
The Foundation Schools promotes the belief that all students can learn and make good choices. School personnel use explicit instruction, clear expectations and structured routines to promote independence and coping skills. Because we serve students who have a history of difficulties in school, we use a Positive Behavioral Support Model that incorporates social skill instruction and continuous performance feedback throughout the school day. Teamwork and a sense of community are emphasized through cooperative learning groupings and planned social activities. Students are taught skills that can be generalized to their homes and communities. The goal of the elementary program is to teach and prepare students to return to a less restrictive environment, ultimately a general education classroom in a public school setting.
The high school program serves students ages 14-21. High school students’ educational needs are defined in the Individualized Educational Program and have two primary components: academic and pre-vocational with an emphasis on post-secondary goals.
Students receive instruction that is aligned with the Maryland College and Career Readiness Standards. The curricula include language arts and literature, mathematics, career development, physical education, technology, science and social studies. Just like a regular high school, students move from class to class throughout the day. Similar to our elementary and middle school programs, direct social skills instruction is embedded throughout the curriculum.
The goals for our high school students are to:
- Return to their home school district: If students have an interest in returning to their home school district, more emphasis is placed on the general curriculum. Transition back to the home school is a highly structured process that involves the students, their family, school system personnel, and The Foundation Schools’ staff.
- Obtain a high school diploma.
- Find their career path: Students who have post-secondary goals of gaining competitive employment, acquiring pre-vocational skills and exploring job opportunities may receive services from the Career Connections In-School Workroom Program. This program provides students with career exploration and supervised, simulated work experiences within the school environment. Students learn technical skills such as resume crafting, application processes and job skills for obtaining and maintaining employment which include interviewing, accepting corrective feedback, communicating with co-workers, being absent from work and resigning from the job. Behavioral goals are monitored on a daily basis and achievement is celebrated weekly. Finally, if appropriate, students may be provided with job coaches and work part of the school day in the community.
This behavior program is one of positive encouragement and role modeling. It is based on understanding the social emotional needs of our students and the impact trauma has on their behaviors. When PBIS is used with fidelity, it promotes students’ behavioral health, including social and emotional learning, bullying prevention, dropout prevention, truancy reduction and positive behavioral approaches to reduce suspensions and expulsions.
A strong social skills curriculum helps maximize students’ opportunities to succeed at school, despite the adversities they may have endured, by bolstering them in four key domains: (1) strong relationships with adults and peers; (2) the ability to self-regulate behaviors, emotions, and attention; (3) success in academic and nonacademic areas; and (4) physical and emotional health and well-being.
CBITS is a school-based, group and individual intervention program. It is designed to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and behavioral problems, and to improve functioning, grades and attendance, peer and parent support and coping skills. CBITS has been used with students who have witnessed or experienced traumatic life events such as community and school violence, accidents and injuries, physical abuse and domestic violence and natural and man-made disasters. CBITS uses cognitive-behavioral techniques (e.g., psychoeducation, relaxation, social problem solving, cognitive restructuring, and exposure).
Counseling is a process whereby the relationship and communication facilitates understanding of one’s strengths and weaknesses in a safe and supportive environment and teaches students the skills and behaviors necessary to succeed in school. When properly implemented, the goals of counseling are to bring about behavioral change and accelerate personal growth/development that positively affects school success.
Animals accept us as we are – they don’t judge and they don’t threaten – so students can wholeheartedly interact with them in a safe and structured environment. Our students use the pet therapy program to reduce the stress of school, build trust, improve mood and build self-esteem.
Through home-based and after school outreach interventions, the Foundation Links program connects students and their families to quality community-based resources. For those who do not have the means to seek private therapeutic care, The Foundation Links program introduces accessible resources including consultation with The Foundation Schools’ psychiatrists. Other resources include providing crisis intervention services such as food and clothing, transportation and in-home therapeutic services.
Students who have post-secondary goals of gaining competitive employment, acquiring pre-vocational skills and exploring job opportunities may receive services from the Career Connections In-School Workroom Program. This program provides students with career exploration and supervised, simulated work experiences within the school environment. Students learn technical skills such as resume crafting, application processes and job skills for obtaining and maintaining employment which include interviewing, accepting corrective feedback, communicating with co-workers, being absent from work and resigning from the job. Behavioral goals are monitored on a daily basis and achievement is celebrated weekly. Finally, if appropriate, students may be provided with job coaches and work part of the school day in the community.
The Food for Thought program acknowledges the importance of every meal, as more than 80 percent of our students fall below the poverty line and are many of our families are unable to ensure that their children have access to a healthy breakfast and lunch daily. This program ensures all students receive the proper nutrition to be successful in school and nutrition education.