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Betamarsh Alternative Classroom

Vision

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To provide every participant the opportunity to meet academic, life skill and employment goals with success, through a framework promoting positive attitudes, values, ethics and self-esteem. This vision can be achieved through an alternative classroom at Homestead that will honour each student as an individual and noble being.

Betamarsh Alternative Classroom

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Betamarsh Incorporated has developed an innovative classroom experience that allows students who are unable to function in a conventional school setting to grow and learn despite unresolved issues. This program is based on the melding of teaching and play therapy by both treating and educating the whole child. Specialized programs have been designed in order to build an environment that is safe, respectful and unique for each student. The classroom provides opportunities for students who have mental health issues, addictions, F.A.S.D., anger, behavioural issues, bereavement and loss, have been traumatized or need a temporary break from the regular school system. A child cannot learn and grow if there are unresolved mental illness and behavioural issues. By providing support and individualized programs, along with a safe environment, these issues can be addressed in a gentle and positive manner. A student-centered model has been used to build individualized programs by assessing each student’s interests and strengths as well as if there are any learning disabilities present.

Positive modeling from school support workers, teachers and senior students all play a significant role in each student’s education. This is especially effective because of the small teacher/student ratio allowing for effective individualized learning and treatment.

All members of The Classroom Treatment Team have training and experience in Education, Life Skills and Play Therapy and are Educational Assistants, Child and Youth Workers.The Classroom Teacher is a Certified Play Therapist. Specialists and experts from the community work with the Classroom Teacher so that specific academic and social skills are integrated into workshops in computers, horse and stable care, leather work, drum making, cooking, art and restaurant training. Hands on activities such as these, enable students to grasp and master learning skills in reading, writing and math, practictical application, communication and socialization.

Betamarsh promotes and practices a treatment team approach for all programs within the agency. Communication between the home and the classroom programs occurs on a daily basis, with in-depth weekly reports sent to each residence and to the Director. This ensures that supervision, support and monitoring are consistent in the home and at school.

The location of the classroom is instrumental in its success as it allows access to The Naftel’s Creek Conservation Area. Aside from the obvious educational benefits this holds, there is the added advantage of experiencing a closeness to and respect for nature and the space and freedom this gives to each student. Students are given the opportunity to work and learn in a safe, predictable environment where there are provisions made for such things as ample personal space, quiet and respect.

Individual and group therapy, as well as Trauma and Loss Counseling and Life Skill Education Programs are available on-site. Therapeutic Tutoring is a key component of The Betamarsh Alternative Classroom and is available to all students enrolled in the program.

Why Was The Betamarsh Classroom Developed?

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Identified Issues
  • Students dropping out of school due to lack of support for mental, emotional and behavioural issues (e.g. F.A.S.D.)
  • Students in crisis who need a short break from the regular school system (i.e. bereavement and loss, pregnancy, mental and /or emotional breakdown).
  • Limited training in life skills, employment and/or character development.
  • Lack of post secondary learning opportunities to accommodate disabilities (specifically developmental delays).
  • Lack of programming for students with developmental disabilities.
  • No alternatives for students who have been suspended or expelled from school either short or long term.
  • Students being bullied at school and, as a result, have been re-traumatized and are too fearful to return to school.
  • School Phobic, Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Phobias, Victim Reactive Behaviors, Sexual Acting Out, Self Harming Behaviors, Risk Behaviors, Depression, lack of motivation and other issues that prevent the student from learning and being able to attend the regular school system.

Betamarsh Alternative Classroom Accommodates

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Betamarsh Alternative Classroom has space for six full time students and two part time students from Grades 1 through 12. The classroom works hand-in-hand with the community school that the student is registered with to ensure that academic requirements are met and that the student is part of a regular community school. Each student is given the opportunity to return when ready to be part of the regular system. Both school systems support this program.

Theraputic Tutoring

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Skills in social and academic areas are addressed, along with identification of individual strengths, interests and challenges. Strategies and coping mechanisms are built by applying problem solving and goal setting techniques developed by the student on the basis of their strengths and interests. Skills that are taught during Therapeutic Tutoring Sessions, and reinforced daily by the Classroom Treatment Team, include: developing coping strategies, socially appropriate behaviors, self control, goal setting, improving social skills and interactions, developing positive relationships with peers and authority figures within the school setting. Students are given the opportunity to practice these skills in small groups as well as at the community school through interactions with the students and staff. Full integration into the school setting, along with independence, is the ultimate goal for those students who are able.Students increase their ability to finish tasks and assignments by taking responsibility for work. Student are given the opportunity to advocate for themselves and plan their educational future. The Students meet with teachers, the principal and other community school staff. They are guided in developing positive relationships within the school so that they may eventually seek support there. Through practical application the student is taught the learning skills and strategies that he or she need in order to be successful in the educational environment so that when these skills are applied within curriculum guidelines, participants are able to keep up academically while meeting their treatment needs.

Educational Goals

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Throughout all the programs under the Betamarsh Umbrella, Education/employment is one of our priorities. We have a strong relationship and work along side Avon Maitland Board or the Catholic Board to ensure that the youth who come into our programs have an individual program established to help each youth be successful within the educational system.

  • On-site independent school program with a qualified teacher and certified Life Skills coaches is available if the treatment team and the placing agency deem appropriate.
  • We encourage academic assessments, tutoring when needed and guidance for participants present school program.
  • To provide a structural program that teaches Life Skills with a “hands on” approach.
  • To provide opportunities for the youth to gain skills, experience and confidence to live independently, or transfer to the After Saratoga Program, attend College/University and/or an apprenticeship program.
  • Participants are supported in co-op placements, apprenticeships, and employment assessments by the Employment centre in order to access many youth initiatives available.

Wendy Dell Grace

Teacher in Charge

Phone/Fax: 519-524-5855

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