Untreated mental and behavioral health disorders can have a profound negative impact on a student’s ability to make appropriate academic progress. Our on-site private school, New Oaks Academy, provides comprehensive, individualized educational support for children and adolescents who are receiving care at Belmont Behavioral Health System.
When children and adolescents struggle with mental and behavioral health concerns, the effects of these disorders can include diminished performance and other problems in school.
Although inpatient programming can be a vital part of the effort to help young people achieve improved health, it can also require students to miss significant amounts of school, which can exacerbate their academic challenges.
For these reasons, we created New Oaks Academy, which provides dynamic academic programming and personalized support for young people who are receiving inpatient care at Belmont Behavioral Health System.
This on-site private school is licensed for students in grades 5-12. Our licensure also allows us to provide special education services for students who have been diagnosed with:
- Emotional disturbance
- Specific learning disability
- Intellectual disability
- Multiple disabilities
- Speech or language impairment
- Other health impairments
All students who are enrolled in New Oaks Academy receive individualized academic instruction and comprehensive therapeutic support.
The school’s standards-aligned curriculum is consistent with our hospital’s commitment to providing comprehensive, customized services that address the full scope of each patient’s needs.
A typical school day at New Oaks Academy begins at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. During this time, students participate in several traditional academic classes as well as a variety of support sessions and therapeutic activities.
The academic component of the school’s curriculum includes five core subjects. All students attend the following classes:
- Social studies
- Physical education
Classes at New Oaks Academy are led by certified teachers who provide individualized instruction that promotes academic success and addresses each student’s developmental and emotional needs.
Supportive and therapeutic activities that take place during the school day include:
- Intervention sessions, which include math and literacy instruction provided by a certified special education teacher
- Social-emotional learning (SEL) classes
- Process groups that are led by a master’s-prepared clinician
To promote student engagement and ensure maximum effectiveness, all educational and therapeutic support services at New Oaks Academy are provided in age-appropriate environments.
Process groups are incorporated into the daily schedule at New Oaks Academy. The goals of these groups include promoting healthy interactions among students as a means of effecting emotional growth and positive behavioral change.
Process groups for students in grades 5-7 follow a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) framework and focus on topics such as identifying and modifying negative thought patterns, developing healthier coping strategies, and practicing mindfulness.
For students in grades 8-12, process groups at New Oaks Academy are based on the principles and practices of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). During these sessions, students work on skills and strategies related to emotion regulation, interpersonal effectiveness, mindfulness, and distress tolerance.
Although process groups and other therapeutic activities are integrated into the daily schedule at New Oaks Academy, it’s important to note that they are not intended to replace similar services that take place during nonschool hours.
Instead, the therapeutic components of our on-site private school are designed to augment and supplement the therapeutic and supervised recreational activities that are provided through our inpatient units for children and adolescents at Belmont Behavioral Health System.
Instructional services at New Oaks Academy are provided by dedicated teachers who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree and are certified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in early childhood, elementary, or secondary education.
Our teachers develop structured lesson plans with clearly defined learning objectives, and they provide instruction in the manner that is best suited to each student’s educational strengths and needs.
In addition to empowering our students to make appropriate academic progress, our teachers also work closely with our clinical and support staff to help students address and overcome the behavioral concerns that may have previously prevented them from having success in the classroom.
New Oaks Academy teachers participate in the development and delivery of individual education programs (IEPs) for students who qualify for this service, and they also attend treatment plan meetings. This ensures that our academic and clinical services are aligned, consistent, and optimally customized for each student.