Epiphany Prep Charter School- San Diego

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Escondido Campus » Counseling


Counseling Philosophy & Practice

Epiphany Prep is a school of second chances for many of its students. As mentioned previously, during our 2013-2014 founding year the following was true of Epiphany Prep’s initial student population:

  • 75% in grades 4-7 were expelled or suspended 5 or more times from previous schools;
  • 100% qualified for Free and Reduced Lunch under Provision 2 status; and
  • 80% assessed at enrollment were two or more grade levels below in Math and Reading. 
We knew that we must do something different so these students would succeed. The standard discipline policies employed by many schools simply did not work for these students. As 21st Century educators, we understand the best practices of school-wide discipline based on a triad of integrated counseling approaches in the classroom. These approaches, which include a Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS), Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Restorative Justice, are supported by Epiphany Prep’s counselor, incorporate Trauma Informed Care principles and assist students in making healthy and productive choices for themselves and their communities. Parents learn about these programs and processes in parent assemblies, PEP meetings and in-parent conferences where parents are encouraged to develop their at home discipline measures in line with the school’s philosophy using these strategies.



Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

is a process of bringing life skills to students. In Epiphany Prep classrooms, every student receives 90 minutes of weekly direct instruction from counselors, which includes small group work. For grades K-5, Second Step is the developmental and sequential curriculum utilized to promote school life and prLessonevent problem behaviors, and it is also aligned to the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) standards.


Second Step is modified at Epiphany Prep for grades 6-8 and to the PBIS and RTI models. Unit topics include Skills for Learning, Empathy, Emotion Management and Social Problem Solving. By having the same unit topics in each grade level, Epiphany Prep can ensure that students are reviewing the same skills and creating a common language across grade levels.


Counselor Lesson Planning

The counselor uses the Common Curriculum program to integrate daily lesson plans and align the Year at a Glance to what is occurring daily in the classrooms, with interns also having access to this lesson planning. Counselors collaborate with classroom teachers so that teachers can reinforce counselor lessons and the counselor can integrate upcoming teacher content and align Common Core Standards and ASCA Standards into the counselor’s own lessons in, for example, Restorative Justice.

Trauma Informed Care

The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACES) such as poverty, abuse, violence, substance abuse and mental health concerns, directly affect the students’ ability to learn and behave. Epiphany Prep staff is committed to building relationships with students and to manage classrooms in a way that best responds to student needs positively. Epiphany Prep follows the six principles of Trauma Sensitive Schools described below as outlined by the Harvard Law School and Massachusetts Advocates for Children:

  1. Understand the impact of trauma and trauma sensitive practices;
  2. Support all children to feel safe physically, socially, emotionally, and academically;
  3. Address student needs holistically by taking into account their relationships, self-regulation, academic competence, and physical and emotional well-being;
  4. Connect students to the community and provide opportunities to practice developing skills;
  5. Embrace teamwork and staff share responsibility for all students; and
  6. Anticipate and adapt to the ever-changing needs of students.

Positive Behavior Intervention System

Epiphany Prep students are expected to follow the four school-wide values of respect, wisdom, responsibility and excellence. Within each value are positive behavior expectations that are reinforced in each classroom and schoolwide with biweekly value awards, class awards, and token economies. Individual and classroom student behavior is tracked and data collected using an online system, Class Dojo, and its cell phone app is used by teachers and is reviewed by students and parents at any time.


Class Dojo is a fully customizable classroom management app that gives students positive or constructive feedback for any skill or expectation as chosen by teachers. Teachers keep parents abreast of behaviors with instant messaging within the system. Reports are user friendly to pull, colorful and easy to read for teachers, administrators and parents. Class Dojo helps teachers to hold students accountable for their behaviors by making privileges such as athletics, certain field trips and themed parties earned opportunities based on behavior points.

Restorative Justice

...is a philosophy of discipline and set of practices aimed at building community and responding to behavioral concerns through a conscientious culture that repairs the harm and restores both victim and offender. The goals of Restorative Justice are to identify the harm, repair the harm and restore the parties.


It is not enough to punish children or have them apologize for inappropriate behavior. They must identify the harm, reflect on and be accountable for what they did, write about it and include their roles and responsibilities for safety, and attempt to restore their good character by sharing with the person they offended what they should have done differently and how they will repair the harm, all the while being open to learning pro-social skills. The outcomes are that the student does something positive to repair their missteps and restore the relationship(s) with those impacted.


The nine basic principles of Restorative Justice at Epiphany Prep, based on the work of Ron Classeen and Fresno Pacific University, are:

  1. Misbehavior is primarily an offense against relationships and secondarily a violation of school rules (since school rules are written to protect safety and fairness in relationships);
  2. The primary victim of the misbehavior is the one most impacted, while secondary victims might include students, teachers, parents, administration, community, etc.;
  3. Restorative Justice is a process to “make things as right as possible”;
  4. There are both dangers and opportunities created by misbehavior and the conflicts that underlie misbehavior, so recognize the “teachable moment(s)”;
  5. Resolve the conflict or handle the misbehavior at the earliest point possible and with the maximum amount of cooperation possible (as little coercive force as possible);
  6. Handle most conflicts using a cooperative structure between those in conflict;
  7. Since not all students misbehaving will choose cooperation, outside authority (administrator) may be needed to make decisions for the misbehaving person, and any consequences imposed should be tested by whether they are reasonable, related, restorative and respectful;
  8. Students who misbehave and not cooperative must be continually invited (not coerced) and encouraged to become responsible and cooperative at the earliest time they so choose; and
  9. Follow up and accountability structures are required to ensure effectiveness of the restorative justice model since keeping agreements is key to building a trusting community.