What is SAS?
By Anna Brooks
Since its conception in 2016, the mission of Student Academic Support (SAS) has been to provide academic support to the students of Bellingham Christian School as they endeavor to succeed independently in the classroom. The program was born out of our school’s desire to be equipped to provide students from any academic background with high-quality education. The program began in 2016. At the close of the 2017-2018 school year, eleven students were enrolled in SAS. Today thirty-two individualized support plans are in place.
At the core of SAS are four certified teachers who facilitate one-on-one and small group learning opportunities. In reality, our SAS team extends well beyond this small group of teachers. Parents, administrators, classroom teachers, and students themselves work together to promote student academic growth. Each K-8 Support Plan focuses on either math or language arts. Teachers, the SAS Director, and our Director of Learning put their heads together to choose classroom intervention techniques, target skills, and student accommodations.
During a given SAS session, students focus on their personal target skills. One component of Student Academic Support that makes it so effective is that goals are different for each student. Some students focus on learning academic content that classmates are already familiar with. Other SAS students practice organizational techniques, striving to wrap their minds around information and get their own thoughts down on paper. Whether the focus is on the writing process, reading comprehension, math problem-solving, or fact fluency, each student’s goals are catered specifically to his or her needs. At the midpoint and end of each semester, parents are provided with a summary of their child’s progress and student’s target skills are revisited and adjusted as necessary.
With individualized goals, are SAS students are given extra coursework on top of their other classwork? No, quite the contrary! SAS teachers work closely with grade-level teachers to ensure that SAS students are supported as they complete class assignments. If a student’s target skills are reading fluency and spelling, he or she may take an independent reading assignment, read out loud to the SAS teacher, and identify spelling words in the passage. Perhaps a student’s focus is on organizing information and working at appropriate pace during math. He or she may be given strategies to structure math assignments and held accountable for work completion. The goal of SAS is not to provide an isolated learning experience, but to support students as they endeavor to succeed independently in the classroom.