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Shepherding Program: 91% Success Rate
Jillian Gletow

In The Atlantic Magazine article, What Happened to American Childhood? by Kate Julian (May 2020), School Refusal is described as being the "equivalent of a four-alarm fire, both because it signals profound distress and because it can lead to so-called failure to launch—seen in the rising share of young adults who don’t work or attend school and who are dependent on their parents."

Collier School Shepherding Program has a 91% success rate with students who struggle with school phobia and intense school anxiety.

In The Atlantic Magazine article, What Happened to American Childhood? by Kate Julian (May 2020), School Refusal is described as being the "equivalent of a four-alarm fire, both because it signals profound distress and because it can lead to so-called failure to launch—seen in the rising share of young adults who don’t work or attend school and who are dependent on their parents."

 

Collier School Shepherding Summary:

The Shepherding Program at Collier works with students who struggle to attend school for many reasons. Our trained staff of licensed clinicians first conduct an assessment, then develop and implement a personalized treatment plan based on each student's unique needs. Shepherding can provide many services such as home visits for in-home sessions, individual therapy, family support, overseeing personalized educational programming, and running weekly anxiety management groups. We also have the Shepherding Space on campus that we use for exposure plans, crisis intervention, and group therapy. Shepherding works with the student and family and does not view chronic absenteeism as truancy but rather as a symptom of the student’s current mental health status. A high number of students struggle with school phobia, or intense anxiety surrounding the school setting. Through our knowledge of school phobia and best practices, we use our resources to implement exposure plans for these students. By doing so, we incrementally expose the student to their stressors and begin to desensitize their response to being in a school setting. This takes a substantial amount of time, planning, and patience. We have had tremendous success with our treatment methods. This year, we have a 91% success rate in retaining students who have utilized our shepherding program. Still, more importantly, these students are attending school, making friends, and getting the education they deserve.

 

Success story:

This year’s Collier Award recipient for the class of 2022 is a former shepherding student. She struggled with severe anxiety, and through various interventions and treatment plans, she was able to flourish not only mentally but also academically and socially. So much so that she was the lead in the school’s musical and showcased her impressive talent on stage. She was referred to Collier as an incoming 9th grader and had not attended school in over two years. The shepherding counselor met her and her parent the day before school started to begin the rapport-building process. In order to set her up for success, she was taught coping skills and became familiar with the building and her schedule. This allowed her to feel in control and alleviated her anxiety about the unknown. We also developed a comprehensive intervention plan to implement if she was to become overwhelmed. This practice carried through all four years she attended. Throughout her schooling experience, the shepherding counselor hand-picked her classes, facilitated an anxiety management group that she diligently participated in, and provided psychoeducation to the student and her family. Even when she attended school almost daily, shepherding remained involved as consistent, ongoing support. She became a leader in the community and challenged her anxiety every day. On her last day of school senior year, she and the shepherding counselor reflected on her growth and progress in front of the high school building- reminiscing about her first day of freshman year and just how far she had come. 

 

Collier School is open during July and August for inquiries, tours, and screenings. 
Please contact Eileen Littles at 732-946-4771 ext 100 or Cynthia D’Arcy at ext 207.

Collier Inclusive Playground is Here!
Jillian Gletow

Collier Youth Services, a nonprofit located in Wickatunk, NJ, officially opened the Collier Inclusive Playground on Monday, June 27th. This playground will provide hundreds of hours of fun as well as mental and developmental growth for campers at Kateri Day Camp as well as Students in Collier School, both programs of Collier.

To mark this joyous occasion, Collier hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for all the donors who helped make the playground a reality. Among the audience were members of the Colts Neck Woman’s Club, the Lions Club of Colts Neck, Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn, individual donors, and board members. After the ribbon was cut, campers flooded the playground running toward their favorite pieces of equipment—the twisty slide and the whirl and twirl were among the top.

Collier Youth Services Officially Opens its Inclusive Playground!

Collier Youth Services, a nonprofit located in Wickatunk, NJ, officially opened the Collier Inclusive Playground on Monday, June 27th. This playground will provide hundreds of hours of fun as well as mental and developmental growth for campers at Kateri Day Camp as well as Students in Collier School, both programs of Collier.

To mark this joyous occasion, Collier hosted a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for all the donors who helped make the playground a reality. Among the audience were members of the Colts Neck Woman’s Club, the Lions Club of Colts Neck, Assemblywoman Vicky Flynn, individual donors, and board members. After the ribbon was cut, campers flooded the playground running toward their favorite pieces of equipment—the twisty slide and the whirl and twirl were among the top.

Since 1977, Kateri has provided a safe, supervised summer camp experience that enriches the lives of children from Monmouth County’s poorest neighborhoods. Kateri is unique because it is the only day camp in Monmouth County that solely focuses on the children of families who live in poverty. Each summer, over 220 campers come to Kateri at little or no cost, thanks to camperships (camp scholarships) covering the full camp tuition, round-trip transportation, breakfast, lunch, snack, swim lessons, literacy program, and on and off-site activities.

The benefits of the Inclusive Playground Studies are truly significant. Studies have shown that playgrounds improve athletic abilities by gaining cardio endurance and strength from the varying equipment. Agility will improve as well as fine and gross motor skills, balance, and coordination. Imaginative play that occurs on a playground helps develop executive functioning skills providing them with opportunities to troubleshoot, prioritize, plan, and negotiate.

An Inclusive Playground allows youth with disabilities to be included in this vital development. Last year, 55% of Kateri campers were diagnosed with some form of disability such as ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, and cerebral palsy. An inclusive playground respects the needs of each of our campers. This safe and fun space where everyone can play together will foster a sense of community where everyone feels welcome, and there is something for everyone.

When camp is not in session, the inclusive playground will be used by 80 students currently participating in the Occupational Therapy (OT) program at Collier School, also located on the Collier campus. Collier School is a Middle and High school for students whose mental health and behavioral challenges cannot be met within their public school. Many students are diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, Autism Spectrum Disorder, depression, mood/attention/adjustment difficulties, oppositional/defiant behavior, poor social skills, and school avoidance. Children with these diagnoses can quickly become under or overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, or agitated throughout the school day. The playground will build gross and fine motor skills, core strength, and body awareness for them. Students will also use the playground to provide "movement breaks" to help them reset and be more productive in the classroom.

Sunflower Project
Jillian Gletow

What could be more pleasing than seeing a bright yellow sunflower swaying in the breeze against a blue sky? Creating an opportunity for students to engage in planting seeds to sprouts to ultimately grow the same bright yellow sunflowers! This is exactly what the students at Collier High School’s Kateri Program have accomplished. Since Collier High School has a greenhouse on campus, in late March students began preparing the soil for growing vegetable seeds and sunflower seeds for planting in late May in the Collier Community Garden.

As a result of the experience of growing food and flowers, students have committed to creating potted sunflowers throughout the campus this Summer. It will require the completion of vigilant care of the flowers in bloom through daily watering as well as re-seeding the flowers as they mature and return to seed. The original seeds will be re-planted in the greenhouse and the excess seeds placed in bird feeders. The stalks will be composted for enriched soil in the garden. 
 

This project-based Science lesson is an ongoing project the students have named, “The Sunflower Project”. It is a lesson in sustainability and concern for the environment and our beautiful campus at Collier High School. We love “spreading a little sunshine” discovered in the face of a glorious sunflower.

Executive Functioning
Erin P. Alburtus

Executive Functioning
Reynold Forman
Supervisor of Special Projects/Academic Support Coordinator

Part of my job is to help students who require support with executive functioning skills.  One of the quickest methods to get anxious students to find their center is through havening and tapping. These methods focus on acupressure points to slow down the central nervous system and adrenal boosts that come with a student who has anxiety about work or socialization.  

Earlier this year, I had a student who was not initially receptive to tapping and havening, but as time progressed he tried it with success! This led me to a discussion with our nurse, Theresa Alves, as to how to calm down a student who is in “defense mode.” We both reviewed videos for helping students who are learning to advocate for themselves when feeling dysregulated. Just hitting these acupressure points at the onset or at mid-flight for students is helping them tremendously to regain traction and find another way to express their needs to another. 

Some students who experience “demand avoidance” or a “persistent drive for autonomy” freeze up at the amount of work they have to do so they give up easily. Using these interactive strategies enables students to look more objectively at what they have to do and how we can help them organize their work in a way that is manageable.

At Collier School, we frame these practices with specific statements: “I can’t→ I won’t→ I will→ I can.” 

Keeping this motto in mind, we can always help students process where they are thoughtful. We partner with students to move to the side of the scale that shows they can overcome fears to be as productive and successful as they can be.