The Bridges Program at the Homewood Center is a public middle and high separate day school therapeutic special education program. It features small classes, specialized, differentiated instruction, the provision of counseling services in multiple formats, trained interventionists, and intensive staffing ratios. The program is designed for students whose most prominent struggles are understood to be the result of psychiatric conditions, internal psychological states like anxiety or depression, and/or neurochemical/neuroanatomical idiosyncrasies, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The population of Bridges is typically around 50 students. The students who attend the Bridges Program are those whose conditions have resulted in problematic scholastic behaviors in comprehensive middle and high school settings. What all of these students typically have in common are deficits in social skills and underdeveloped scholastic and interpersonal coping strategies, which adversely impact educational and functional performance.
Curriculum, supports and activities designed to assist students with executive functioning deficits and atypical sensory needs are specifically integrated into the school environment and throughout the school day through universal design. Within a consistent and comprehensive therapeutically focused environment, students receive individualized instruction to support their IEPs and BIPs. Data collection is maintained throughout the day to assess behavioral and academic progress.
Highly qualified and certified special educators teach core academic classes. In addition, larger classrooms (5-10 students) are supported by a trained para-educator. Working between and within the classrooms, hallways and the Behavior Support and Intervention (BSI) rooms are the Behavior Support Staff. They are extensively trained interventionists who have expertise in understanding the impact of functional deficits on academic performance. They intervene to allow the student to be maintained in the classroom or to regain the capability of returning to the classroom with minimal impact on instructional time.
The clinical staff includes three licensed social workers, a certified school psychologist, and a licensed psychologist. Finally, an HCPSS administrator has an office within the program, specifically to support the Bridges program.
Success at the Bridges Program is based upon two main factors: the student's own motivation to succeed at school, and upon the family's collaborative input and support for student and staff efforts. Personal success is defined individually by each student functioning at his/her optimal level and by each student meeting the rigorous demands of the HCPSS curriculum.
Entrance to Bridges
The CEPT (Central Education Placement Team) process acts as the point of entry for students entering the Bridges Program. This team is made up of staff from the Department of Special Education, current school placement, and additional representatives from possible schools/programs that may be considered for referral. This committee reviews referral packets submitted by the comprehensive/current schools who have recommended students who require more supports than can be provided in their current setting or, if a student is in a non-public, considering a lesser restrictive environment. Prior to requesting a CEPT IEP Meeting, the comprehensive/current school has implemented multiple interventions, but have determined that more/different supports may be needed. The Department of Special Education Instructional Facilitator and/or Resource Teacher support students, schools and families through this process.