Founded in 1967, Mount Carmel Guild Academy moved to its current location in West Orange, for the start of the 2003 - 2004 school year, after twenty-three years in Newark. Mount Carmel Guild Academy is a private, non-profit, non-sectarian, co-educational school offering a comprehensive program for learning and behaviorally disabled children in grades Pre-K through 12. The school's 210-day program focuses on providing an educationally and clinically supportive environment for students between the ages of three and twenty-one. An appropriately certified teacher (TOH / TSWD / SUBJECT CERTIFICATION) leads each class with the assistance of an instructional aide. Daily lesson plans reflect each student's IEP, which is collaboratively developed by the parent, child study team case manager and Mount Carmel Guild Academy personnel. In addition, students are able to continue their academic and behavioral program in the summer by attending the Mount Carmel Guild Academy Extended School Year program.
With the start of the 2006 - 2007 school year, classes for children classified with autism spectrum disorder were opened. Following the principles of ABA, each student participates in Discrete Trial Teachings (DTT) one-to-one with a trained staff member. ABA focuses on the reliable measurement and objective evaluation of observable behavior. Discrete trial teaching (DTT) is an ABA teaching strategy which enables the learner to acquire complex skills and behaviors by first mastering the subcomponents of the targeted skill. This methodology is highly effective in teaching basic communication, play, motor, social, and daily living skills. Although the DTT methodology is an integral part of MCGA ABA-based program, other teaching strategies based on the principles of behavior analysis are used to address more complex skills, such as deficits in "emotional understanding," "perspective taking" and other executive functions, such as problem solving. At MCGA students also learn independent living skills including self-care, pre-vocational training, social skills and ADL skills. These lessons are built into the students' programming. Lessons are taught in classroom and school environments as well as in the community to ensure mastery and generalization.
With a clinical staff comprised of School Social Workers and School Counselors, students are provided with a strong therapeutic environment, which utilizes both individual and group interaction in an effort to promote the development of positive and effective coping skills. Responsibilities of the clinical staff is to provide case management services, individual and group counseling (as indicated in the student's IEP), and coordination of communication between the school, sending district, as well as the family and support agencies that the students may be involved with outside of school. Included within the individual and group sessions are activities which promote the development of appropriate social skills. Each clinician assists in the monitoring of the school's Problem Solving Room, an out-of-class "time out" space where students who are experiencing difficulties can be given the opportunity to regain self-control, explore more appropriate and productive responses to stress, increased anxiety and anger in an attempt to rejoin their classes and participate in the educational process.
In addition to the counseling component, Mount Carmel Guild Academy also offers speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy to those students whose IEP indicates a therapeutic need. With the start of 2019 we introduced a new shared related service model for all of the classrooms.
Students 14 - 21 have the opportunity to explore potential transition and vocational opportunities. Students receiving transition services are encouraged to develop skills in the areas of personal responsibility and self-management in addition to addressing academic and pre-vocational skills. The transition services themselves are a coordinated set of activities that are based on an individual assessment that identifies student needs, preferences and interests. A variety of career strands, assesses their aptitude and interests, and develops skills that are essential for success in continuing Career and Technical Education. Our students participate in regular community-based instruction, which provides them with opportunities to apply academic skills outside the classroom with developing socialization and practical problem-solving skills in a more natural environment. Work-based on site job coaching for juniors and seniors is incorporated into each student's schedule through a variety of activities. Instruction and training in core job skills that are facilitated by our vocational coordinator, as well as off-site businesses within the community. On-campus jobs have included working with our front office staff, making deliveries within the building, laundry, recycling, landscaping, food service and assisting in our school store. Our self-contained high school classes are designed for students whose highly intensive behavior management and instructional needs can be best addressed in a structured self-contained special education class. Intensive academic interventions, along with a focus on employability skills, behavioral supports which include counseling, social skills, activities of daily living and case management services provided by our counseling staff.
All students participate in the school-wide Behavior Management System. Earning points for appropriate, compliant behavior, as well as participation in academic activities, students work towards earning daily individual rewards in addition to a weekly all-school incentive. The System allows a student's behavioral progress to be objectively monitored. Coupled with the grades for academic work, student progress is reported to parents and child study teams through the quarterly report card. In addition to the annual IEP / AR meeting, there are two Parent - Teacher Conferences each year.
Throughout the school year, students are provided with opportunities to participate in activities outside of the school. These activities include trips such as bowling, ice-skating, roller-skating, Musical Theatre, Museums, NJ PAC, and The PNC Bank Arts Center as well as others. Participating in these outings gives students the opportunity to experience a wide variety of activities outside of the classroom.
Overall, it is our hope that with the development of more effective coping and interpersonal skills students will experience increased academic and behavioral success.
Students are referred by their home school districts for enrollment at Mount Carmel Guild Academy. Both administrative and clinical staff reviews referral materials for prospective students. If appropriate, the student is then invited for an intake interview, along with their parent / guardian and child study team case manager. Following the intake interview, if the placement is considered appropriate, an offer of acceptance is then extended to the parent and child study team. Please visit our website at mcgacademy.net