Opened in 2014, with the new Adaptive Identity Model (below) design to support student with developmental and generational traumas, we began creating a vision that combines the most up-to-date educational and therapeutic practices with neuroscience and bio-psycho-social systems theory. We believe each youth and family is unique, but our need to safely belong in a community is not.
Within the context of a trauma-sensitive environment, our Type 3 Alternate school is developing a culture that is free from unnecessory stressors, while challenging personal growth and leadership. We are responsible to ensure that all traditional school resources are exhausted prior to enrollment.
Our V logo has three wings, each wing represents the core parts of our school culture (also aligned with our Kwantlen, Katzi, Semiahmoo and Matqui First Nations teachings): safety (spirit), adaptation (body) and leadership (mind). Our culture is intended to create SAFETY through rest and understanding of past memories and traumas, to teach youth to be ADAPTIVE and use self-care to become more resilient, and to help all youth reach their full potential by becoming healthy and giving members of society with developed LEADERSHIP skills.
“We teach youth how to steer their nervous system toward resting, self-care and giving leadership.”
“Our youth and staff work together to recognize our impact upon each other, and our nervous systems. We see this critical to ensure that we are working on creating a place that will inspire all learning to create their positive legacy for the future.”
VISION – “to create a demonstration school with advanced trauma sensitive conditions and differentiated individualized practices”
The three themes (Safety, Adaptation and Leadership) are intended to help ensure healthy behaviours, healthy learning and neuroplastic development. While ensuring our vision is supporting best practices, our primary responsibility is to develop sustainable infrastructures to support them.
THE TEAM and COMMUNITY
This year our Action Plan takes advantage of our new Leadership Team structures, the school is segmented into three teams: Classroom Team (Academic), Restorative Learning Team (Resource) and Therapeutic Team (Counseling). These three Teams have been given unique capacity and control over their action plan goals and professional expectations.
The key drivers of our action plan are our Administrative team, our Team Leaders and community partners (including feedback from other SD35 schools). The key collection points for feedback and consultation are:
- Action Plan Team Meetings – Our school Action Plan team is comprised of our three Team Leader positions (listed below) and our Admin Team
- Classroom Services Team Leader, includes the coordination of academic services (literacy and numeracy goals and assessments), aboriginal world view integration and career education (focusing on Capstone).
- Restorative Services (Resource and Transitions) Team Leader, includes the coordination of special education documentation and resource team, counselling team, career education (focusing on health and career integration and coordination of the district Career Advisor) and bridging learning restoration services.
- Therapeutic Services Team Leader, includes coordination of primary support worker team, aboriginal support workers, drug and alcohol workers, community support agencies and community transitions (post-graduation) school therapeutic culture and diversity events.
Our Action Plan Team is regularly discussed during our daily Staff Connect meetings, Monthly Staff meetings and Staff Committee (LTA and CUPE versions) meetings as primary collaboration points. Additionally, we collate input around our Action Plan from our interactions with the following regular community partners:
- Child Youth Mental Health
- Langley Youth and Family Services
- SOS Children Society
- Youth Specific Meetings
- Probations Meetings
- Project Resiliency District Program – School Partners
- Website and Vanguard Leadership App Portal
Our environmental design which celebrates neurodiversity, emphasizes safety and intentional social contact points beginning with a late (neurologically appropriate), transitional start (8:47am). This is intended to assess student’s readiness to learn and offer a “safe” transition into regular academic programming at 9:09am. A three block quarterly schedule allows for a focus on more intense academics in Blocks 1 and 2, and therapeutic programming and relationship building in Block 3. All students are scheduled into extension classes in Block 3 focusing on learning restoration, experiential education and/or play therapy. These extensions are aligned with core competencies required Graduation programming.
Our intake process is essential in exploring the “restorative” needs of our students and aligning them with the “therapeutic” services we provide. As a Type 3 Alternate program, it is essential that traditional support services are exhausted prior to enrolment.
FINANCIAL and PROGRAM SUSTAINABILITY
Our innovative program not only has targeted funds to support innovative staff practice, but also to support those initiatives requiring sustainable funding (e.g. Student food program – breakfast and lunch program).
Our greatest challenges fall within the following areas based on our functional needs assessments (completed year 1 and 2 of Vanguards development plan):
- Centralized budget created to support yearly fluctuations of enrolling students and the dynamic needs of our students.
- Specialized staff with the unique therapeutic skills necessary to work in a Type 3 Alternate program need significant more training than traditional learning environments. Recruitment and retention are critical factors for program sustainability.
- Strong employee wellness initiatives are critical to reduce systemic costs (losses) associated with school safety, compassion fatigue/stressors and programming functioning/stability.
- A responsive and adaptable (we use the term metabolized) therapeutic model requires regular change within school service delivery, making it challenging to consistently budget and plan for the dynamic functions and be flexible to the every changing needs of our students and their families.
- It is critical to develop district processes to better align systemic best practices rather than Vanguard taking on a “systemic safety net approach”.
- The school facility has been functionally and esthetically underwhelming and has been an area of frustration for the past six years. The scheduled upgrade for March 2023 is completed and our facility has added classroom and a leadership lab/classroom. An exciting new opportunity moving into 2024.
Our Vanguard Secondary Teams have spent a significant amount of time exploring infrastructures that support our inquiry question, “How do you intentionally create a demonstration school with advanced trauma sensitive school conditions while maintaining individualized differentiated practices?” Our hope is that by diversifying our leadership culture and capacities, our model will flourish. We have taken our inquiry question and expanded it into three departmental specific goals within our leadership team model:
- Classroom Services Team:
- To engage students through purposeful play to create a safe and trusting learning environment by our use of club extensions. This will be tracked all year through attendance.
- To improve literacy for understanding for all students across all curricular areas.
- Restorative Services (Resource and Transitions) Team:
- To establish positive relationships with staff and students in order to collaboratively create strength-based support plans for each Vanguard student to restore and/or enhance their education (as measured by documentation of student engagement, observation, and staff communication).
- To improve student’s ability to reframe their educational experience.
- Therapeutic Services Team Leader:
- To rebuild and re-establish positive engagement strategies and develop balanced relationships and boundaries with students (post-COVID) that will be measured using an adapted version of the Outcome Rating Scale.
- To establish clearer therapeutic interventions relating to mental health literacy and awareness for students and staff.
- School Goal:
- To regularly integrate Truth and Reconciliation throughout all areas.
- To establish clearer systemic plans related to our Professional Learning Community (PLC), Ensouling Schools practices and our advanced Response to Interventions (RTI).
- To prioritize a healthy school leadership culture for all members of the school community
While frustrated by incomplete data from provincial sources (e.g. MYED, Student Files, Social Service Reports, etc.) we have determined that the following data targets and corresponding strategies will help ensure that we achieve our goal in functional and accountable ways:
- 100% of all students enrolled at Vanguard Secondary have been either professionally identified or self-identified mental health needs and have had a lack of success with school and community supports identified through our Vanguard intake processes. In most cases, their primary reason for coming to Vanguard Secondary is to escape peer and adult miss-labeling and “bullying.”
- All students, their families and staff will participate in Vanguard Secondary’s school therapeutic resource and counseling interventions which focus on:
- Safe transitional enrolment, resulting in a progression toward 100% school attendance
- 100% staff awareness and participation in trauma sensitive school practices
- 100% core participation in mindfulness and/or therapeutic groups
- 100% improvement in willingness to access therapeutic supports.
- 100% of Grade 12 students enrolled in our Leadership (and Mentoring) Program.
- Identification of student’s own sensitivities and relating behaviors within students IEP, CP and SSP while successfully completing their related goals.
- We are continuing to train staff on the impacts of developmental trauma on academic and social-emotional learning. We are doing this through:
- All our interventions being therapeutic, and will progress through the three focus areas, first safety, then adaptation and finally leadership.
- September 2021 will include a three day trauma sensitive training for all staff.
- During the 2021-2022 school year, there will be daily collaboration relating to trauma sensitive best practices and intervention feedback.
- Teaching assignments (and course selections and syllabus’s) will reflect these practices and ensure that formative assessment techniques are included with a trauma sensitive lens.
- Workshops will be created to empower staff’s leadership capacities to share best practice and improvements in essential learning and counseling outcomes.
- Implementation of new 2021 procedures and practices (some implementation was delayed due to pandemic safety protocols and circumstances), including:
- Transparent Communication of School Intentions – Website Updating
- New Therapeutic Resource Team and New Therapeutic Counseling Team focusing on specific areas of best practice.
- New Restorative Aboriginal Program – focusing on alignment with family support and therapeutic resources. Focused September programming with Truth and Reconciliation as an educational cross-curricular focus.
- New Competency Based Individual Education Plans directly support trauma based barriers and identified mindfulness skill gaps and those relating to the core competencies.
- Community Care Plans and Student Support Plans directly support trauma based barriers, including attachment theory, cognitive behavior theory and dialectical behavior theory. Interventions Clinicians have been given write access to these reports.
- Trauma related information gathering through intake and surveys
- New Enrolment protocols and transitioning (from first meeting to starting classes) to included 1701 changes/discrepancies, student records and accurate communication to school team, including:
- District partnership around our intake process (and development of District Intake Committee) and expanded to participation on Vanguard Intake Team.
- Vanguard 101 and Student Leadership Courses, focusing aligning Safety, Adaptation and Leadership Language with Entrepreneurship Language.
- Staff Connect-Parent training available throughout 2021-2022 school year.
- Learning intention and formative assessment practices are being integrated through transparent strategies (e.g. course syllabus and website) and Vanguard Leadership App.
MEASURES AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Our NEW Needs Scale Rating (NSR), Subjective Units of Distress scale self-reflection, Trauma-Sensitive School and Screening tools (TESI), Dimensions of Stressful Events Rating Scale (DOSE) and MY Worst Experience Survey (MWES) will be a daily, individual and school wide measurement tool that will allow for multiple points of reflection and analysis
MyEd Data will continually be refined – macro vs micro issues, including:
- Individualized needs and programming assessment
- First Nations attendance and outreach tracking
- Student completion and transition rates
New to 2023 will be a new format for Individual Education Plans, Community Care Plans and Student Support Plans which will be strength based and will give more practical feedback for youth and families. We will be looking at how to best use this information throughout the school year.
Formative Assessment practices are targeted as another tool for school wide assessment.
Our current NSR data shows where and why our school has such a therapeutic focus.
We are fundamentally challenged by historical data collection practices. We actively intake students whose histories and stories that have been impacted by generational and developmental traumas, all of which get exasperated while trying to fit into a “reactive system.” Therefore, we are continuing to work on the best tools for assessing our practices, particularly our students needs and their participation in our school programming and interventions. Identification of needs and student attendance rates are our “go-to”s for school progress, while working on more specific markers. At the same time we feel positive about some of our recent systemic interventions. To support our students and their families, we need not only thoughtful, but efficient.
Our new Team Leader positions will be taking the data collected from all resources (not just NSR) and do a “deep data dive” of their departmental successes and failures as it relates to Vanguard Secondary’s vision and mandate. Furthermore, we have added an Outcome Rating Scale and Vanguard Administrative Growth Plan Rubric to our data assessment and analysis. Administration will help collate the data and work on ensuring an inclusive leadership culture. We have already taken the above targeted intervention and related FTE roles to reconfigure some of the positions in the school to reflect these needs. This will continue throughout the 2021-2022 school year to align this learning with all aspects of our Action Plan for Learning and Intervention. .