PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

Farr Academy provides an academically enriching, therapeutic environment that can effectively manage students with academic, emotional/behavioral problems while enabling them to learn and grow academically, socially, and emotionally.

Teachers at Farr Academy undertake the role of teacher/counselor, integrating effective principles from both the teaching and counseling professions into the classroom.

A range of services are provided that help students understand and change the beliefs and underlying emotional issues which cause behaviors that interfere with learning and personal growth. This is achieved through the formation of therapeutic relationships with staff, and a rigorous curriculum that is tailored to the learning needs and academic levels of the individual student. The following program components and strategies are employed to assist students as they tackle educational tasks, achieve emotional stability, manage interpersonal relationships, and endeavor to reach their potential. Please select a link from the list below or scroll down.

|The_Therapeutic_Environment| |Therapeutic_Alliances_with_Staff| |Staff| |Small_Classes| |Curriculum| |Remedial_Services_/_Tutorial| |Studio_Art_/_Woodshop| |Physical_Education| |Problem_Solving_/_Communication_Meetings| |Homeroom_Groups_/_Rap_Up| |School_to_Career| |Transition_Planning| |PACE| |Camping| |Outreach| |Bullying_Prevention|

The Therapeutic Environment
The therapeutic environment lies at the heart of Farr Academy. Care, respect, patience, knowledgeable staff, thoughtful student-centered teaching, positive systems, and the art of never giving up on a student are joined together with expectations and standards that encourage and support learning, emotional growth, positive change, competence, achievement and the ability to be self-reliant and independent. A therapeutic environment fosters tolerance and understanding by focusing on reflection, group process and shared goals. Students are supported as they are challenged to strive harder and are taught in ways that promote success. They are encouraged to question their beliefs and actions as they explore new ideas and ways of thinking. They are encouraged to strive, with the knowledge that they will only be asked to tackle tasks that are well within their emotional and academic reach.

Therapeutic Alliances with Staff
It is our belief that therapeutic alliances enable staff to work with students in order to foster emotional and academic growth. The core of these alliances is formed by the classroom teacher/counselor and the homeroom teacher/counselor. Classroom teacher/counselors use multiple techniques to break through barriers, provide corrective experiences in the classroom, and begin to help students believe in themselves as students, as individuals, as members of a group, and as part of a community.

The homeroom teacher/counselor serves as the primary counselor, support person, advocate, and together with the parent worker, liaison with family and community. Students are guided by the homeroom teacher/counselor through the process of developing trust, self-awareness, self-confidence, self-control, and respect for self and others by providing counseling, facilitating problem solving meetings, reinforcing compliance with rules, and teaching strategies and techniques to manage stress and frustration. Understanding how the past impacts the present and how their beliefs and feelings drive their behaviors are powerful insights that evolve over time. Through these two complementary alliances students learn to set and work toward goals, communicate successfully with others, and become decision makers who make effective choices.

Staff
The Farr Academy staff consists of administrators, clerical staff, teacher/counselors, clinical staff and consultants. The overall program student/staff ratio is 2:1. The 2:1 ratio includes all staff involved in providing direct services to students, including tutoring and school-to-career counseling. At Farr Academy the quality and capability of each staff person is believed to be of primary importance. We therefore hire staff based on their ability to work well with the students at Farr Academy as well as for their professional credentials.

Farr Academy approaches our work with students from an integrated perspective and therefore each staff person is both teacher and counselor to the students within their classes and most especially to those students within their homeroom. Homeroom teacher/counselors have the largest share of responsibility for providing counseling, outreach, support and advocacy for the students in their homeroom and together with the parent worker provide the linkage with parents and community workers.

Small Classes
Small classes provide the opportunity to develop intensive individualized instruction based upon each student's ability, potential and need. Specific approaches are geared to the learning disabled student. Two teacher/counselors are most often assigned to work with approximately six students and therefore have the opportunity to provide individual instruction to students in the classroom. Counseling and teaching are integrated into the classroom by teacher/counselors who work to balance the emotional and academic needs of all students. This permits the individualized attention necessary to get beyond the emotional barriers that make it difficult for the student to learn. Defenses such as anger, boredom and indifference that cover over the pain and anguish of unsuccessful school experiences are more easily penetrated by a trusted teacher/counselor with whom a student has formed an alliance. Small classes permit attentional problems, distractibility and impulsivity to be addressed. Academic strengths are reinforced and areas of weakness are remediated. Structured group activity and learning is emphasized as well in order to encourage interpersonal pro-social skills.

Curriculum
The curriculum, aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, includes an array of middle and high school courses. Coursework, although typically rigorous, includes opportunities for individual instruction, remediation, modification and accommodation. Students with a learning disability are provided specialized instruction in the classroom and the opportunity for a tutorial. Each student maintains a weekly schedule that includes English, mathematics, science, social studies, Spanish, woodshop, art, electives and physical education. Remedial and college preparatory courses are offered. Methods and materials are carefully chosen to encourage students to challenge themselves, build on strengths and remediate areas of weakness.

Although most classes include individualized instruction, group learning is included. Instruction is geared to address learning needs as well as academic skill level. Since students at Farr Academy have the potential to achieve academically and may choose to further their education after high school, they are encouraged to pursue challenging course work.

Each term students select two elective courses from a list of diverse course offerings. A sampling of current elective courses includes the following: computer instruction, creative writing, anatomy and dissection, driver's education, furniture making, journalism, mythology, educational excursions, astronomy, outdoor adventure, SAT and MCAS preparation, instructional weight-training, and music instruction, including guitar, bass guitar, piano, voice and drum.

Remedial Services / Tutorial
Remediation of academic weaknesses and specific learning disabilities is focused on in the classroom. The format and structure of academic classes permit the two teacher/counselors to develop individualized curriculum, provide one-to-one instruction and support, and modify the curriculum in order to remediate deficits while at the same time build on academic skills. When a student needs more individualized instruction and attention, one-to-one tutorials are provided. Individual tutorials are provided for a variety of reasons. They are offered to students who have a specific learning disability such as dyslexia; to students who would profit from a one-to-one relationship for emotional support; to students who need one-to-one instruction in a particular subject, and also to students who excel in and want to pursue a particular area of interest.

Studio Art / Woodshop
The opportunity to explore creative, project-oriented endeavors is provided through an extensive art and woodshop program integrated into the daily course of studies. Individual instruction is geared toward student-driven projects based upon skill level and competence. Students are encouraged to explore various materials and learn new skills in a safe, non-stressful environment that supports creative expression and often serves as a therapeutic outlet. For the student with a serious interest in pursuing art or furniture making/carpentry in the future, the Studio Art and Woodshop staff possess the expertise to help students build a portfolio and demonstrate competencies toward that goal.

Physical Education
Physical education classes concentrate on developing individual and team skills as well as the appreciation and enjoyment of varied athletic activities. Seasonal intramural and inter-league team sports are offered in addition to general fitness and health classes. Exercise and team sports offer a safe outlet to express a range of complex feelings. Students are supported and encouraged to explore the advantages offered through these activities.

Problem Solving/Communication Meetings
Many of our students are frequently confronted by problems, some of their own creation and others they have no control over. They rarely have developed a means of dealing effectively with them. We provide our students the opportunity to learn the basic skills that enable them to become problem solvers and sound decision makers through counseling and our system of problem solving meetings. They learn to solve conflicts, discuss differences of opinion, clarify confusions, and work through frustrations. Through discussion and reflection, they learn to identify the real problem. They learn how to assess their own feelings and beliefs and to respect and understand the feelings and beliefs of others. They learn how to get to "what really happened", and to recognize their own role in any interaction as well as the role of others.

With practice, students learn how to resolve, or at the very least, come to terms with “the problem”. Within this non-judgmental, non-punitive format, students learn to trust that they will be heard and will be helped to hear others. They learn that with patience, persistence, and practice, nearly all problems and conflicts can be avoided or resolved in this manner.

Learning how to listen to the concerns, opinions, and perceptions of others and how to express one's own ideas and feelings are central to gaining a sense of control over one's life. Many of our students feel that they have never been listened to and have never figured out how to have a positive voice. Instead, they often use behaviors that are provocative or destructive as their primary means of communication. They have heard so little that is positive and so much that hurts, that it is safer to just turn off the voices that assault them and therefore, have long ago stopped listening to anyone. They are so often immersed in problems they can neither understand nor resolve and possess such underdeveloped communication skills that they do not have the ability to engage in a meaningful discussion. Therefore they express themselves through unhelpful verbal interchanges or negative behaviors. Central to the concept of problem solving/communication meetings, is the ability of the student, with help, to look within, get beyond the defenses and explore the underlying feelings which may have nothing to do with the stated or apparent conflict that rears up, overwhelms the student and lies at the heart of the problem. Within the format of the problem solving/communication meetings established at Farr Academy, students learn and practice the skills that enable them to better understand themselves and others. They learn to give equal weight to “facts” and “feelings” and understand the interplay between the two. They become better communicators, learn to make sound decisions that successfully prevent potential problems or conflicts, and become more effective at avoiding, preventing and solving problems through reflection and discussion.

Homeroom Groups / Rap-Up
Opportunities for group discussion are made available through weekly Homeroom groups and all school Rap-Up sessions facilitated by trained Farr Academy staff. A wide variety of topics raised by students or staff can become the focus of discussion in the small homeroom group and/or the larger all school Rap-Up.

School to Career
The School-to-Career Counselor assists students as they explore options for post high school opportunities, whether college, technical school, or employment, and works with employers to provide internships, training, and paid employment to all interested students. Career counseling and exploration, as well as work experiences serve as a bridge for students as they prepare for the future. For many students this process first begins with the desire to find and hold a job. For others, college, technical school, the trades, or other fields of interest are ideas that have been nurtured for years. The School-to-Career Counselor offers all students the opportunity to explore the wealth of options available before and after graduation beginning with their interests and talents.

Working with students and parents, the School-to-Career Counselor and Transition Team, a designated group of Farr Academy staff chosen to serve as Transition Advisors, coordinate the college and technical school search and admissions process as well as exploration of the trades and other fields of interest; provide information regarding FAFSA forms and eligibility, SAT preparatory courses, SAT test schedules, campus visits, and oversee the application process.

Classroom instruction and field experiences are provided to expose students to various employment options and increase their employability. Specific job related skills are taught and on-the-job training opportunities may be included through field trips, job shadowing, off-site and on-site internships, and after school employment. Students are encouraged to learn about work through the process of job searching, application, securing a position, maintaining employment by demonstrating proper work habits, and leaving a job appropriately. Throughout this experience, students are guided, supervised, counseled and advised by the School-to-Career Counselor who searches out jobs and serves as a liaison between the school and the job site.

Transition Planning
Students enter Farr Academy because they have been unsuccessful in some aspect of their lives. They may have had difficulty in the public schools, in their families, or in their communities. It is our goal that at some point all students will work through many of the issues that made it impossible for them to function effectively. Planning for the transition to public school, graduation from Farr Academy or placement in an alternative program is an integral part of the IEP TEAM meeting process as well as regularly scheduled staff meetings and meetings of the Transition Team, a designated group of staff chosen to serve as Transition Advisors who monitor the process of goal setting, goal attainment, readiness for reintegration to public school and/or meeting graduation requirements. Students, parents, liaisons from the public schools and other agency staff are regularly consulted throughout this process. Post graduation planning is monitored and coordinated through the School-to-Career Counselor in consultation with the Transition Team.

PACE
PACE is a point system intended to be used as a concrete resource for students to reflect upon their overall school and class-by-class performance. It is used in conjunction with discussions geared to acknowledge successes, problem solve concerns and create plans that support positive change.

Students earn points based upon their Promptness and Attendance to school, and their Cooperation and Effort in each class. Students are encouraged to use this system to review and evaluate their performance and progress with their homeroom teacher/counselor and to identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement.

Camping
Farr Academy offers the opportunity to experience the outdoors with trained staff guiding each trip to all students who wish to participate. Students are encouraged to sign up for day trips and one or two night camping trips scheduled for weekends throughout the school year. Trips include hiking the White Mountains in New Hampshire with packs, canoeing the Saco River in Maine and tenting overnight on a sandbar, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing, fishing, and bike hikes. Overnight trips range from tenting in the wilderness and in campsites to sleeping in cabins in the woods on winter trips.

For many students, the Farr Academy camping program exposes them to a new awareness of the beauty, peace and excitement contained in the mountains, rivers, lakes, marshes and tidal pools in New England as well as a new understanding of their own capabilities and a much needed feeling of success and self-evident accomplishment. The unique confidence that comes from enduring the challenges inherent in many outdoor experiences can help motivate youngsters who have felt failure to reach out and explore other experiences with a new found sense of their ability to attain a goal they have set for themselves, The joy of a hard climb to the top of a mountain, the thrill of snow-shoeing through the quiet woods in winter, and the sheer pleasure of canoeing a river remains a special memory for many Farr Academy alumni who continue to use what they learned through the camping program far beyond their years at Farr Academy.

Outreach
Outreach is an integral component of Farr Academy. As its name implies, staff reach out on a regular basis to help a student and/or parents during times of stress. We are aware of how difficult it is to break well established patterns of truancy or avoidance of school and to resist the pull of the peer group or manage the complexity of family dynamics. Therefore outreach in various forms is provided. For the student having difficulty getting to school daily, staff may provide morning wake-up calls, pick-up services, and family meetings to discuss the underlying issues. At times, a student needs additional outreach even when in school daily. This too is provided on an ongoing basis in a variety of ways. Staff devote many additional hours beyond the usual school day to students and parents, including school breaks, at various times during the course of a student's tenure at Farr Academy.

Bullying Prevention & Intervention Plan
I Introduction
Farr Academy has a long history of teaching pro-social skills to all students, paying particular attention to the specific disability of students in the school and how the disability affects their ability to successfully interact with others.  Although Bullying as defined in this law has not been singled out for specific discussion, teaching students to understand the causes of interactions that are hurtful to one another, and how they are fostered and supported or spurned and refused acceptance in favor of other forms of outlets, is an ongoing focus of teaching in all aspects of the program...
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II Definitions and Terms
Aggressor means perpetrator of bullying, cyber-bullying or retaliation as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, §37O, and amended by Section 72-74 of Chapter 38 of the Acts of 2013 to include “a member of a school staff, including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extra-curricular activity or paraprofessional”.
Bullying, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 71, §37O, bullying is defined as the repeated use by one or more students, and as amended by Chapter 38 of the Acts of 2013 to include staff, of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination, directed at a target that...
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III Leadership
Farr Academy acknowledges the importance of leadership at all levels in developing and implementing our Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan. On or before December 31, 2010, the Farr Academy Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan was submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and posted on the school website. Moreover, the Plan which was amended in December 2013, will be reviewed and updated at least biennially, as mandated by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O.  Staff are trained annually and receive annual written notice of the Plan.

Farr Academy expects that all members of our school community will treat each other in a civil manner and with respect for differences. The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan is intended to function as a guide in creating a comprehensive approach to addressing bullying, cyber-bullying and retaliation.  Farr Academy is committed to working with students, staff, families, collaterals, law enforcement agencies, and the community in order to prevent, intervene and respond to incidents of bullying and retaliation. The director and/or designee, with the support of the administrative and entire staff, are responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Plan, except when a reported bullying incident involves the director, or associate director as the alleged aggressor.  In such cases, the Executive Director or designee shall be responsible for investigating the report, and other steps necessary to implement the Plan, including addressing the safety of the alleged victim.  If the Executive Director is the alleged aggressor, the Board of Trustees, or its designee shall be responsible for investigating the report, and other steps necessary to implement the Plan, including addressing the safety of the alleged victim. 

The focus at Farr Academy is on teaching all students, self-reflection, communication, goal setting, decision making, and pro-social and problem solving skills, providing counseling supports and the teaching of respect for self and others.  Systems that teach, support and encourage students to report incidences of concern, including conflict and bullying, and resolve them using counseling with their homeroom teacher/counselor, meetings with their parents, and Non-judgemental, Non-punitive Problem Solving Meetings, has long worked to help students resolve issues with others and prevent them from reoccurring.
 
Students at Farr Academy are taught that any time a student is placed in an uncomfortable position by another student or group of students or engages in interactions that may lead to confusion or discomfort, staff will intervene and if not in the view of staff, students are encouraged to alert staff.

Further, students and parents or guardians are encouraged to alert staff of any issues of concern, including bullying.  Typically, after counseling with each student to understand the dynamic, a Non-judgemental, Non-punitive Problem Solving Meeting is convened to deal with the issues presented. The concept, to support student understanding of one another, to promote empathy and self-awareness, as well as to protect the safety of all students, has been successful with a range of students who have difficulty forming successful interpersonal relationships with others.

Public Involvement in Developing the Plan

As required by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, Farr Academy has developed the following Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan in consultation with staff, professional support staff, administrators, local law enforcement agencies, parents and guardians.  Consultation included notice and a public comment period before the Plan was adopted.

The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan will be reviewed and updated at least biennially. The following steps have been taken to involve staff members, parents and guardians in the development of the Plan:

  • Finalized Initial Draft presented to the staff in November
  • Finalized Initial Draft presented to parents and guardians in December
  • After a comment period a Finalized Secondary Draft was presented to staff in December
  • Finalized Master Plan submitted in December
  • Implementation January 2011

Planning and Oversight

The director or designee is responsible for:

  • Implementation and oversight of the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
  • Collecting and analyzing reports related to bullying to assess the present problem and measure improved outcomes
  • Creating a process for tracking and recording reports related to targets and aggressors
  • Planning ongoing staff training and professional development
  • Planning and implementing supports that respond to the needs of targets and aggressors
  • Selecting and implementation of curricula
  • Reviewing and revising, as needed, policies related to bullying
  • Reviewing and revising staff handbooks to reflect requirements of the Farr Academy master plan, to, among other things, make clear that bullying of students by school staff or other students will not be tolerated
  • Overseeing the parent and guardian involvement
  • Reviewing and updating the plan biennially

 

IV Prevention
Farr Academy in its work with students, who have a wide range of learning, social, and emotional difficulties, believes that prevention is the key to creating a climate where bullying, including cyber-bullying and retaliation is not fostered and supported, but is rather spurned and refused acceptance by all students... ReadoMore

V Access to Resources and Services
In addition to the resources and services available to all students, highlighted in Prevention, including targets, aggressors and their families, Farr Academy will recommend additional supports such as Community Service Agencies (CSAs) as needed, in collaboration with collaterals, and parents or guardians.

VI Academic and Non-Academic Activities
As prescribed in the law, Farr Academy will investigate evidence-based curricula appropriate to the population at the academy to integrate into the existing classroom approaches, whole school initiatives, and focused strategies and techniques currently used. Most of the approaches that follow are integrated into the social and emotional learning skills currently taught.  A focus on these prevention approaches specifically related to bullying and retaliation will be implemented... ReadoMore

VII Policy and Procedures for Responding to and Reporting Concerns Related to Bullying and Retaliation
General guidelines for staff response to student interactions that raise concerns of bullying and retaliation include:

  • Staff are expected to thoughtfully respond and intervene when concerns about bullying arise.
  • Staff are expected to remain neutral and calm when dealing with alleged bullying situations. 
  • Staff are expected to understand that the tone used by them is critical to defusing any situation.
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VIII Parent Involvement
Consistent with the philosophy of Farr Academy, parent involvement is an essential ingredient in creating an environment that most effectively helps students grow and develop in all aspects of their academic, social, and emotional experiences.  A parent clinical coordinator is on staff to provide parents easy access to the school, so that we can work together as we deal with issues that impact students negatively or are an outgrowth of their specific disability.  In order to most effectively implement strategies to prevent and intervene when reports of bullying are made, we work together with parents as we teach bullying prevention and when we pursue an investigation to help both the student who is being targeted and the student who is perceived as the aggressor. Farr Academy will continue to integrate bullying prevention instruction throughout the program, in classes as well as during unstructured time. Parents or guardians will be informed as Farr Academy continues to develop the bullying prevention curricula taught to students... ReadoMore

IX Training and Professional Development
Farr Academy has a long history of providing staff training and professional development designed to address the range of disabilities of students at the school.

Staff are provided an array of training opportunities that focus on teaching all students pro-social skills, paying particular attention to the specific disability of students in the school and how that disability affects their ability to successfully interact with others.  Although Bullying as defined in this law has not been singled out for specific discussion, teaching students to understand the causes of interactions that are hurtful to one another, and how they are fostered and supported or spurned and refused acceptance in favor of other forms of outlets, is an ongoing focus of teaching in all aspects of the program... ReadoMore

X Relationship to Other Laws
Consistent with federal and state laws and regulations and the policies of Farr Academy, no person shall be discriminated against in admission due to race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or homelessness.  Nothing in this Plan prevents Farr Academy from taking action to remediate discrimination or harassment based on a person's membership in a legally protected category under local, state or federal law or Farr Academy policies.  In addition, nothing in this Plan is designed or intended to limit the authority of Farr Academy to take disciplinary action under M.G.L.c. 71, sections 37H and 37H 1/2, other applicable laws, in response to violent, harmful or disruptive behavior, regardless of whether this Plan covers the behavior.

XI Appendix: Farr Academy Bullying Prevention and Intervention Report Form
Click Here to open our form as a PDF with Adobe Reader