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:
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 prevent 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:
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.
...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: