Initiating a Circle of Support for Students Early and Often
Student support services are critical to student success. At The Biome, through our in-house special education program, we have the ability to provide a variety of student support services such as: reading intervention, occupational therapy, special education instruction, behavior intervention and speech-language services. This year, we had the opportunity to bring our speech-language services in-house with our new speech-language pathologist, Emily Schiltz, joining the Biome staff. In addition to having earned her master’s degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders from Saint Louis University, she has more than 15 years of experience working with elementary school-age children, including 10 years working with students at public charter schools in the city.
Having a professional speech-language pathologist on staff, combined with the Biome School’s commitment to putting students’ needs first, has many special advantages.
Those who require special services can be diagnosed, assessed and begin receiving the services they require much sooner than at many other public schools across the St. Louis region where the process can take up to 3-4 months. “As soon as a child is identified as needing individualized attention, the Biome is prepared to begin the testing and evaluation necessary to begin providing services. We have internal resources and the flexibility to avoid unnecessary delays caused by waiting for multi-level reviews and approvals,” said Emily. Most recently, the entire process, from the first point of verified concern to the child receiving services, took less than 3 weeks for a Biome student.
In addition, those who are receiving speech and language therapy receive a lot of support from other teachers and administrators within the Biome environment. Emily shared, “Because the staff is so small, so responsive, and so student-focused, everyone will stop what they’re doing when they make their way back to the student’s classroom to listen to the student practice and share in their achievements. These positive interactions allow students to build their confidence and take pride in that others know they are making progress. These interactions also help other adults in the building become more aware of a student’s error patterns, allowing them to communicate more effectively and allowing them to help students practice even when they are not in speech therapy sessions.”
The special education resources of the Biome School will have a lasting impact on students. Research shows that targeted, early, clinical intervention makes a significant impact. When supports are in place, students are able to catch up with their peers much faster, close skills gaps much faster, and reduce costs long-term. Quickly obtaining access to intervention services is essential in assisting children to thrive academically, socially and emotionally.
But with limited financial support from the state of Missouri, funding special services is challenging, especially as a public charter school where we receive approximately 25% less in per-pupil funding compared to traditional public schools. Your support is needed to help offset the high cost of special education and speech-language therapy services so the Biome School can continue to provide the individualized attention that can help ensure every child has the opportunity to be successful.
To learn more about how to support and create a lasting impact in the life of a Biome student visit: https://thebiomeschool.org/support/