While TLC Leadership Academy’s curriculum tools and instructional approaches have been selected because they are evidence-based, the school also includes many evidence-based intentional supports focused on the needs of students who have experienced trauma. Creating trauma informed classroom environments requires a major paradigm shift for thinking about how schools are organized and how students are expected to interact with teachers and academic content. Coaching and counseling are important elements of TLC Leadership’s approach to 6-12 education. TLC’s comprehensive approach to mental health and the development of soft skills is central to TLC’s success in achieving its mission. There are five key elements of our evidence-based approach, which are detailed below.
Individual and Group Coaching and Counseling
In a comprehensive approach to mental health, all students participate in one group coaching or counseling session per day that is integrated into their academic schedules. Students who need additional support will receive a minimum of 30-minutes of individual coaching or counseling per week along with their academic courses. In addition to full-time in-house counselors for each TLC house, we also have access to tele-psychiatry for psychiatric support including full psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and crisis assessments on a case-by-case basis.
Our distinctive focus on both academics and mental health affords us the ability to address the needs of nontraditional learners who need extra support in regard to mental health or substance abuse in order to be successful in a school setting, attend school regularly, and, ultimately, graduate from high school.
Focus on Character Development and Soft Skills
Research shows that social skills are as important, if not more important, than intelligence; therefore, we provide a workplace-informed curriculum focused on the development of soft skills, experiential learning opportunities such as educational field trips and community service activities, project-based learning, and even opportunities to participate in internships with local businesses. TLC’s Leadership 220 program and Kinful SEL curriculum further encourage leadership development and cooperative learning by employing values-based leadership lessons that use real-life images and narratives to engage students in a creative way. These curriculum tools aid teachers in speaking the students’ language and creates a more positive environment where everyone can more easily relate to each other.
When a school focuses on developing all of its 6-12 students as leaders, school contexts become transformative spaces. We believe that early leadership development can occur across learning contexts and be systemically prioritized. The evidence-base on 6-12 leadership coaching suggests that nurturing interpersonal relationships will allow us to develop leadership and empower youth increasing self-awareness, improving connections with others, and participating as active and engaged members of their communities. Using the structured leadership curriculum Leadership 220, TLC Leadership students will learn to create their own leadership pathway, while learning key knowledge and skills that will allow them to be engaged citizens in their school and community. Leadership coaching will be integrated into the daily group therapy experience.
Summer Therapeutic Workshops Embedded in Summer Enrichment Camps K-8
Summer learning loss is a well-established fact. The long-term effects of this reality are well-established. While the focus on summer learning loss is largely academic, there is also a need for students to have year-round continuity with regard to socioemotional supports. TLC Leadership counselors and coaches want to be able to maintain the momentum that is built throughout the school year during the summer months. For this reason, TLC Leadership will offer optional summer camp options for families throughout the summer months through a contract with TLC Academy. Summer camps will be offered for a fee and scholarships will be available.
Balanced Academic and Emotional Support Environment
TLC Leadership’s evidence based social and emotional context, with a strong focus on coaching and counseling, trauma informed teaching, and the development of soft skills is unlike any offering in Audubon and, in fact, is unique to the typical public school offering in the state of Pennsylvania. TLC Leadership fills a need that would otherwise go unattended. Students develop academically, emotionally, and socially through the integrated education approach that focuses on mental health and wellness, academic rigor, and a personalized approach to learning.