EPIC Academy is a full time K-3 program that runs Mondays through Fridays from 9 AM to 3 PM during the months of September through June. Our 180-day academic calendar is similar to that of the New York City Department of Education’s, with a few adjustments for professional development days and special events. In order to best meet the needs of our student population and their families, our enrollment will not exceed 25 students. We believe that low teacher-to-student ratios are essential in providing the individualized academic and behavioral supports our students need, so students are grouped in classes of 4-8 students led by 1 special education teacher and 1-3 associate teachers.
Throughout a typical school day, students can expect to receive instruction as a class group, in smaller groups and pairs, and in 1:1 conference settings with an instructor. Our classrooms are thoughtfully designed with areas to accommodate these different instructional models, including large rug areas, small group tables, flexible individual seating arrangements, and calming/quiet areas.
While our curriculum follows many of the academic standards set forth by the Common Core, we also embed and explicitly teach many behavioral and socio-emotional skills to students throughout the school year. Lessons focus on appropriate social interactions, appropriate attention seeking, polite requests, frustration management, accepting differences, coping skills, building independence, and any other skills that we assess our students will need to master in order to succeed in less restrictive environments and the world as a whole. Our curriculum is designed to put an emphasis on these fundamental skills early on so that students will not be impeded by avoidable behavioral issues when learning larger concepts later in their lives.
Our students present with a diverse range of diagnoses and backgrounds; however, one thing they often have in common is a feeling that they have not yet been successful in previous educational settings. Students may also present with behavior profiles that manifest in myriad ways, including physical aggression, environmental aggression, and difficulties with mood regulation. In addition to teaching students the relevant skills to help them manage their emotions, EPIC also provides students with an array of academic, behavioral, and physical accommodations to help them succeed. In conjunction with contracted related service providers, we compose Behavior Intervention Plans specific to each student’s behaviors, in order to provide a consistent approach within the school setting and throughout other settings the student encounters. Communicating our strategies and support systems to students’ families is important to us in terms of providing the maximum amount of stability and growth for each student.
EPIC families can expect their child to receive 2-3 sessions of related services per week, including Speech, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Counseling. Contracted related service providers work with families and EPIC staff to determine the best spread of services for each student. Families also have the option of purchasing additional sessions for their child, and EPIC can work to assist families with this financially on a case-by-case basis.
The team members at EPIC Academy will try their best to adhere to each student’s IEP mandates. Goals that cannot be met through our contracted related services will be embedded into the students’ daily instruction and curriculum. EPIC instructors will also aid families in renewing student IEPs by attending IEP and CSE meetings.
Reimbursement is an important (and stressful) process, but EPIC’s founders are committed to empowering families to advocate for the needs of their children. EPIC’s founders are familiar with the tuition reimbursement process, and it is our goal to make this burdensome endeavor easier on our students’ families by helping them to gather the documentation and evidence they will need along the way. We will consult with families’ attorneys to proactively learn what documentation will be required for each student’s case in addition to putting together a reimbursement portfolio for each student throughout their time with us at EPIC.
EPIC Academy will have at least one MAT-certified staff member on site to safely administer medication to those students who may need it.
Because we recognize the importance of integrating technology in our classroom, we are in the process of securing grants with the hope of creating a state-of-the-art education environment so that our students learn the skills they need to succeed, no matter the setting.
At EPIC Academy, students grow academically, behaviorally, and socially through a combination of large group, small group, and individual instruction. The founders of EPIC believe strongly in a progressive education model and work diligently to accommodate a diverse array of learning styles and modalities through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic approaches. Students also have many opportunities to put their content-knowledge into practical applications through project-based learning, field trips, and our weekly EPIC Endeavors.
Quarterly assessments help us determine each student’s academic strengths and needs, which we then use to develop an individualized sequence of instruction. It is our goal to help each student meet his or her grade-level Common Core State Standards through a well-rounded STEM and liberal arts curriculum. However, if a student has met all of his or her current grade-level standards, we will not hesitate to challenge that student further. Data regarding student performance and goals is communicated with families through daily report cards, weekly summaries, and quarterly progress reports.