Camelot Therapeutic Day School Teachers, Paraprofessionals, and Clinicians Worked Together to Ensure Student Success Throughout Remote Learning
As seven Camelot Education Therapeutic Day Schools in Illinois return to in-person instruction on January 19, students, faculty and staff are celebrating the ways the school was able to excel with remote learning programs and achieve a 98 percent success rate on Individualized Educational Program (IEP) goals.
“I am proud of the way our teachers, paraprofessionals, and clinicians came together to maintain standards of excellence for our students,” Region V Deputy Superintendent Theresa Mortl Smith said. “Because of their hard work, innovation and collaboration, we did not compromise our student’s educational success.”
The school’s distance learning program was successful through a combination of approaches. “We have kept students’ daily schedules as close to their regular schedule – as if they were on campus,” said Principal Kristi Loy. “We used virtual townhouse, video chats, teletherapy, and online assessments, among other methods to ensure students have access to learning.”
Camelot Education posted a video celebrating student and staff accomplishments over the past year. In addition to a 98 percent success rate on IEP goals in the first quarter, achievements included an 80 percent attendance rate on virtual learning platforms, successful expressive therapy programs, and constructive staff collaboration to ensure students accomplish their educational goals.
The shift to remote learning presented a challenge that staff met with enthusiasm. “I am proud of the way that our teams have adjusted their instructional practices and their activities,” said Nicole Davenport, Head of Education. “We organized training for our staff on various platforms to ensure student success. Our teams worked on an individual basis with every Camelot family to provide remote learning support to our students.”
11th grader Logan Nelson enjoyed the opportunity to get one-on-one work time with his teacher and classroom staff using online learning platforms. He also achieved perfect attendance on Zoom meetings.
“I am grateful to all my teachers for their willingness to help where I needed it,” said Nelson. “I was able to take advantage of the time and know that it’s not always a bad thing that we are in this situation.”
Parents have been gratified by the attention and effort Camelot staff devoted to teaching their children during the remote learning period.
“Remote learning for Camelot has been great for my son as he gets to check in and check out with all his teachers. He gets to see his classmates – which he enjoys,” Ronda Linder, parent of 12-year-old student Aydin Glidden, said. “Remote learning gives him a sense of accomplishment as he can do his schoolwork on his own. One day he even called and said ‘mom, guess what, I got all my homework done, on my own,’ and that sense of pride in him is something that he’s never had before, so I appreciate what Camelot has done.”
Megan Bell, the mother of 9-year-old student Alijah, said that “even though my son is still at home, he still gets to socialize with his friends through online lessons and the programs his teachers organize and tailor for him. His teachers have come up with creative platforms, including an online chat to help him connect with his classmates. He’s been able to get everything he needs and enjoys his distance learning.”
Camelot’s Therapeutic Day Schools create a collaborative learning environment for students. Classrooms have several professionals working to support student learning. When learning shifted to virtual platforms, video classrooms continued to have teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians online, working together to fully support student needs. Such “interdisciplinary teaming,” as Mortl Smith calls it, is an important aspect of the school system’s success. This collaboration continued uninterrupted on distance learning platforms.
Clinician Lindsay Rossmiller attributes the success of distance learning to her colleagues’ communicative skills.
“Distance learning has required clinicians to communicate with each other with clarity and compassion,” said Rossmiller, a Music Therapist and the Head of the Expressive Therapy Department. “This has led to more chances to better understand how all of our therapeutic services intertwine to celebrate the diverse and unique learners with whom we work.”
Distance learning has helped staff members learn more about their students as they shifted to online learning. Rossmiller was able to learn the extent of her students’ perseverance, creativity, flexibility, and resilience during the remote learning period. Rossmiller said the online learning platforms even allowed her to explore new ways of relating, connecting, expressing, and exploring the creative elements of healing in the arts.
The schools also organized creative ways to visit their students, including a holiday program to visit students on their front lawns to leave yard signs that read “Hugs for the Holidays.” The visits reminded students that staff care for them and look forward to seeing them when in-person instruction resumes.
The visits and the collaboration with families during remote learning will surely enhance the student experience when kids return to the classroom.