Monthly Archives: December 2017

Embracing a Team Approach for Special Education & Student Support Services

Before students can learn, they must be ready to learn. The reality is that students come to school at different levels and learn in different ways, and it takes support from multiple sources for all students to be able and ready to learn.

At The Biome, we believe in working as a team to support our learners. This allows us to take a holistic approach to understanding what a student needs to be successful. Unique to The Biome is our ability to reach and respond to students quickly and consistently. In many schools the process of accessing services can take up to 90 days. However, due to the many in-school services available and strong external partnerships at The Biome, a referral is often is turned around in as quickly as 30 days. This quick turn-around is critical. Often, without these services, students struggle and are not able and ready to learn successfully in their classroom.

At The Biome, in-school services include speech-language services, special education services, and reading intervention. We also partner with a number of community agencies in order to provided additional needed services such as Miriam which provides occupational therapy, CHADS which provides mentoring and counseling groups, BLASH Associates who provide individual counseling, Healthy Kids Express who provide dental, vision, and hearing screening, UMSL Community Psychological Services who provide assessments, and the Department of Health who provides a nurse in any case of an outbreak of communicable diseases.

While not every learner needs every service, when learners have access to all of these services their ability to learn grows exponentially. For example, in just the past four months, a student who was struggling to learn in the classroom and would likely be on the edge of suspension now benefits from many of our student support services, they no longer are referred for misbehaviors, and they are learning successfully in the classroom. At The Biome, as a team, we are able to quickly assess a child’s needs and open access to any service that we provide.

Our team approach promotes communication and builds trust. Together, in collaboration with parents, the classroom leader, and the learner, we are able to build a plan that best supports the learner. In as early as second grade, learners are invited to their own team meeting. This inclusion typically does not occur until middle or high school in most schools. However, we want learners to be able to have a voice and be able to understand what is going to happen for them.

At The Biome, we know it takes a team. All members of our community are needed to help our students be successful. We invite you to join our team and help our students become ready to learn.

To donate today, visit:

The Biome: Creating a Community Where Every Member Matters

At The Biome, we call our learners “Builders of the Future.” We believe that the foundation they create at The Biome will help them to become future leaders in our community. To support this development, the Biome surrounds our learners with support and views all children from a holistic perspective.

An important component of holistic learning is the intentional integration of opportunities for social-emotional learning. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children learn to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Ms. Turney, second-grade classroom leader, emphasizes, “SEL is pre-learning. If students aren’t given the opportunity to practice and develop these skills daily, it barricades their learning.”

Social-emotional development is not only important for building a healthy classroom community now, but the impact is far-reaching. Up to 18 years later, students exposed to SEL in school continue to do better than their peers on a number of indicators: positive social behaviors and attitudes, skills such as empathy and teamwork, and academics. SEL participants also demonstrated a 6% increase in high school graduation rates, and an 11% increase in college graduation rates (CASEL, 2017).

At The Biome: Everyone Matters

At The Biome, every member of our community is valued. Each day, learners gather for a morning meeting where they listen and share with one another what is happening in their lives. In Ms. Sullivan’s first grade classroom, learners rate themselves on a scale of 1-5 of how they’re feeling and why. As the school year has progressed, she has seen her learners begin to recognize different faces and body language and understand how those relate to how someone is feeling. Her learners are quickly developing their listening skills and are making stronger connections to one another. These relationships help learners to support one another in the classroom. It isn’t uncommon to see learners stop and pull their classmates aside and remind them to take 3 big deep breaths when they are angry or upset – a skill one would assume only a teacher would employ.

At The Biome: Every Voice Matters

Choice is powerful. As a child, many choices are made for you. However, At The Biome, every day, learners have the opportunity to make choices for themselves, for their classroom, and for what they want to learn. For example, recently in Kindergarten, Mr. D’s students were exploring “What is a Scientist?” for their Big Question Unit. As a class, they voted and decided they wanted to learn more about chemistry. In response, Mr. D. focused their class time on projects that explore different principles of chemistry. When students are heard, they know their thoughts and opinions are respected and valued. This leads to a classroom culture where trust is felt, learners feel comfortable taking risks, and they are further motivated to solve problems, rather than to simply give up after the first try.

At The Biome: Everyone’s Contributions Matter

Teamwork is central to how we learn and grow at The Biome. If we don’t respect one another, we can’t work well with one another. In Ms. Turney’s second grade classroom, problem-solving skills are built on multiple levels. Learners are given real problem-solving scenarios daily just from the maintenance of their classroom – from determining how to keep books organized to deciding how to best remember everyone’s birthday. Projects and group activities teach learners how to break down tasks, take on different team member roles, and learn how to provide each other with constructive feedback. In Ms. Turney’s class, learners also have the opportunity to bring their problems to group meetings where they can get assistance and are able to make a choice on how they will solve a problem individually or together as a whole class.

At The Biome, you can feel the commitment there is to build a strong school community – from classroom leaders to parents, everyone is striving to make a contribution. We invite you to consider what contribution you can make to The Biome School Community:

As 2017 comes to a close, we invite you to support our 2017 Year End Appeal, where your contribution will directly support our holistic learning environment at The Biome by providing needed student support materials and services such as:

  • PATHS Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum – $250 per classroom
  • Occupational Therapy Services – $500 per month
  • Literacy Benchmark and Assessment Tools – $1,000 per grade level
  • Student Mental Health Counseling Sessions – $2,500 for an academic year
  • Classroom Libraries – $5,000 per classroom