The Community School is designed for two groups of individuals. The first group includes students in junior high and high school (ages 12-18 years old) who have had difficulty keeping pace in traditional academic settings, and who need more emphasis on social-emotional development, communication and relationship skills, and contextual, experiential learning. The second group includes individuals over 18; these young adults in transition may need support in living skills, job support, or college support. This program offers a nurturing and highly interactive learning environment built around experiences of strong personal interest. We are accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission, enabling students who are ready to work towards a high school diploma to do so.
The Community School is one of several schools in the country to address the needs of students using Stanley Greenspan's DIR Model. This model asserts that social-emotional development provides an essential foundation for complex logical, higher order thinking. Other private schools in the Atlanta metropolitan area focus their programs primarily on specific learning disabilities; this school also provides an explicit, intensive focus on emotional development within a small, well-supported community.
We visualize a world in which the social-emotional foundations of learning are recognized as the essential part of any education program. We also visualize a world in which all students with learning and developmental challenges are served in schools that give them opportunities to strengthen their self-awareness, emotional flexibility, and relationship-building abilities as a primary means to social and cognitive success.
Students' profiles may include a diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder, including Asperger Syndrome and PDD, or nonverbal learning disability. Many students struggle with managing their feelings (frustration, anger, anxiety, obsessive thinking) and with having successful relationships. They may have become depressed and despondent in other schools and feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and withdrawal when they first join us.
The staff comprises education and mental health professionals passionate about working with students who face developmental and learning challenges. Led by Dave Nelson, LPC, a member of Floortime Atlanta, the staff includes licensed counselors, academic teachers, a learning specialist, and a range of specialized staff. In addition, the program works with Learning on the Log, the area's leading provider of relationship-based outdoor recreation therapy services.
Our curriculum is tailored to each student's processing abilities, learning style, and motivating interests. Much of the learning is experiential, and reflective activities (e.g., discussions, creative writing, journals) and other subject areas (e.g., Social Studies, Science) are built around these experiences. An outdoor component focuses on building teamwork, trust, communication, and self-awareness. Once students have developed the capacity for staying physically and emotionally regulated, they may work towards a high school diploma using course materials suited to their particular profile. Some of our students learn quickly, while others thrive at a more relaxed pace. Our emphasis on individual tutoring for core subjects (including English and Math) plus small group learning enables us to meet varied needs effectively.
The full-time school program is limited to a small number of students, typically 10-12, and yearly base tuition is approximately $28,600. Additional fees may also apply depending on the individual needs of the student. The community of young adults comprises an additional 10-15 individuals, and the cost structure for young adults is somewhat different, but an 18-hour-per-week tuition-based program is $22,000. Part-time services are also available. The cost is directly correlated with the highly skilled professionals at the school and a staff-to-student ratio of less than 2-to-1. There is no other program in the area meeting the needs of adolescent students or young adults in this way.