Student Wellness and Support Department
As part of our school mission to educate the whole child, Head-Royce seeks to develop physically healthy and socially and emotionally aware students who understand themselves and others. Recognizing that the concept of “wellness” is part of a broader systemic thinking, we seek to instill in students an understanding of the many components of wellness and learning that lead to happiness and healthy living.
We aim to help our students understand the benefits of healthy eating and physical fitness; the importance of self-awareness; the steps to self-acceptance and self-advocacy; many strategies to effectively navigate social dynamics; and tools for effective communication skills.
Student Support Services comprises a collaborative team of Learning Specialists, Counselors, a health educator, and school nurses who foster the development of academic, behavioral, and social emotional well-being for our students. This collaborative team works together with the staff and community to provide a supportive learning environment, positive social skill development, emotional balance, and good health.
We have professionally trained counselors for each division on campus who are available to meet with students individually or in groups for short-term counseling. The counselors also conduct classroom lessons and observations, as well as collaborate with other student support professionals.
The role of our counselors as part of the Student Support Team:
- The counselor works closely with administrators, Learning Specialists, teachers, outside professionals and families. We believe that the collaborative team approach is appropriate to the developmental needs of our students.
- Conduct student check-ins and conflict resolution facilitation when there are specific emotional needs.
- Consult with classroom and specialist teachers regarding socio-emotional support for all students.
- Coordinate the Upper School health curriculum, teach Middle School Life Skills,
- In Lower School, partner with classroom teachers to integrate social emotional learning throughout the formal academic curriculum and facilitate pull out support groups.
- Classroom observation of students at the request of teachers, administrators and/or parents when questions arise about social/emotional challenges or learning differences.
- One-on-one parent consultation when students are experiencing social and emotional challenges related to school and/or familial strain (i.e. illness, family transitions, loss, conflict).
- Support the implementation and integration of social-emotional learning, self-regulation and conflict resolution curriculum.
- Provide appropriate resources and referrals when outside support is needed.
Health and Life Skills Curriculum
Student wellness is supplemented by life skills and health class in the Middle School and Upper School. These classes aim to create a supportive environment for social-emotional learning. In middle school students begin by exploring concepts of identity, mindfulness, and empathy. In Upper School, Health class allows students to go deeper into discussions around privilege and power, gender, sexuality, consent, and healthy relationships.
The mission of Health Services is to protect, support, and improve the health and well -being of students within the school setting. Parents can help by communicating to the school nurse any health related barriers which may affect their children's ability to learn Often, this is accomplished by working together with the student, their family, healthcare provider/s, teachers, school nurse, and the school support staff.
Some of the services provided by the Health Clinic include medication administration, first aid and emergency procedures, ensuring immunization compliance, coordinating scoliosis screenings and flu vaccine clinics on site, providing care and management for specialized health care procedures, coordinating care with physicians and families for special medical needs at School, and updating health policies and protocols as needed.
Our school community is enriched by the diversity of thinkers and learners who add their talents to so many activities each day. Our goal is that students experience academic success and build confidence as active and engaged learners. Teachers and administrators work with families in an effort to foster a positive academic experience for all students from kindergarten through senior year. We recognize that students with diagnosed learning disabilities may need extra support in designated areas. While we expect all students to meet the School's academic standards, we strive to support students with learning differences so that they have a fair and reasonable opportunity to develop a lifelong love for learning. Our Learning Specialists in each division work closely with classroom teachers to implement strategies or specific accommodations for students with learning differences. Head-Royce provides some support for students with learning differences by each of our part-time Learning Specialists but does not specialize in accommodating learning differences and is not equipped to handle the full range of learners. Our support services change slightly in each division as developmentally and cognitively appropriate within our School mission.
We have found that students with learning differences do well at Head-Royce if their experience is based on the following three pillars:
- With reasonable and school-approved accommodations, the student is mastering the curriculum.
- The relationship between the school and the family is collaborative and effective.
- The student's self-esteem is healthy and intact.
Examples of reasonable accommodations (based on appropriate documentation) may include:
- 50% extra time on tests
- preferential seating
- access to recorded books
- note-taking assistance
- calculator use
We look forward to working together to provide a successful academic experience for your child.
Peytra Redfield, Upper School Learning Specialist, Coordinator of Academic Resources, SSD Coordinator
Sabina Aurilio, Middle School Learning Specialist
Kristi Farnham-Thompson, Lower School Learning Specialist
Learning Support in the Lower School (grades K-5) may include:
- Working in the classrooms and with small groups to help teachers differentiate instruction
- Assisting teachers in assessing progress on an ongoing basis
- Providing small group academic support opportunities
- Providing small group enrichment opportunities
- Helping identify questions/issues/concerns about academic progress
- Working closely with each classroom teacher
- Working closely with the Lower School counselor
- Acting as a liaison to the Learning Differences Network (a wonderful parent support group at Head Royce)
- Acting as a liaison between school and outside support professionals
- Leading team meetings
- Ensuring that information about students’ learning profiles is passed from teacher to teacher
- Providing consultation and support to classroom teachers
- Being available to parents for consultation and discussion
Learning support in the Middle School (grades 6-8) may include:
Support and consultation to teachers and staff:
- consultation about student progress and learning profile
- classroom observation
- recommendation of classroom strategies
- implementation of accommodations
- access to resources and information about various learning disabilities
Support and consultation with families:
- consultation about student concerns, progress, and transition
- referrals and timelines for outside support or evaluation
- assistance with collection of information for medication monitoring
- team meeting organization
- interpretation of evaluations
- setting priorities among evaluation recommendations
- collaborate with LDN to organize events and field questions
Advocacy, information, and case management support for students:
- maintaining testing records
- acting as liaison between school and outside professionals
- creating learning profiles and formalizing accommodations
- provide information, simulations, and exploratory discussion about the range of learning and attention issues for 7th and 8th grade Life Skills class
- bring students to US Amazing Minds luncheons
- connect MS students to US mentors in collaboration with US learning specialist
- assist with transition to Head-Royce high school and other high schools
- implementation and record-keeping of ERB accommodations
Learning support in the Upper School (grades 9-12) may include:
- review and interpreting educational assessments
- develop and implement individual school accommodations
- communicate accommodations and teaching strategies to teachers
- communicate with outside specialists
- consult with parents
- check in with students as needed to discuss accommodations, assist with self-advocacy, and provide guidance with organizational and study skills.
- facilitate Learning Differences club meetings
- organize LD mentoring program
- assist with transition into college
- file standardized testing applications (College Board and ACT)
- coordinate academic support services (tutoring, writing and math labs, etc.)
- coordinate the testing center
- Mentoring and LD Club
- Current Evaluations and Standardized Testing
- Preparing for Upper School
At the beginning of the school year, any pertinent information regarding your student’s learning profile, including your his/her current school learning plan, will be communicated to the new teachers. The Learning Specialist will share a copy of the accommodations plan with the family. The Learning Specialist will be checking in with the teachers, the parents, and your student periodically throughout the year to be sure that the transition is going well and all accommodations are being implemented as needed and are effective. Your student’s advisor is your first point of contact. Please direct any questions or concerns to him/her first and copy the Learning Specialist on any emails.
Self-awareness and self-advocacy are keys to success in the Upper School. For students with learning differences it is especially important that they understand their needs and be able to advocate for appropriate support and accommodations.
Self-advocacy skills include:
- The ability to communicate with one’s teachers to acquire information and recruit help in meeting academic goals.
- The ability to effectively communicate, convey, negotiate, or assert one’s own learning needs.
In the beginning of the school year, each student should contact his/her core teachers to explain his/her learning profile and discuss accommodations. Your child may choose from a variety of options for communication purposes, including (but not limited to) an email/letter, a Powerpoint presentation, a poster, a screencast video, a video/recording of themselves, or a drawing. You may request to see examples of some of these from the Learning Specialist, who is also happy to help. Self-advocacy can be challenging; the Learning Specialist and your child’s team are happy to help make the students feel comfortable with this process.
Many Upper School students with learning differences have found it helpful to have a peer mentor who can provide support and assistance navigating the waters of high school. Students are invited to participate in our learning differences mentoring program and either be paired with a mentor or become a mentor to a younger student. In addition, our Learning Differences Club welcomes all students to their meetings and events throughout the year. The club is run by students, with help from faculty facilitators, and meets regularly. During the meetings, students socialize, and share information about strategies that help them perform well in school, Students discuss challenges and successes in school, mentor and support each other, and help educate the Head-Royce community about learning and learning differences.
If your student receives accommodation at HRS for learning disabilities, you may wish to apply for accommodations on the standardized tests offered by the College Board and/or the ACT. Please be sure that the LD evaluation is current, i.e. no more than three years old at the start of the 9th grade year. If it is nearing three years of validity please contact the Learning Specialist as soon as possible so plans can be made for updating it by a qualified professional whom we can recommend. Evaluations have to meet both Head-Royce and College Board/ACT requirements (see above “Criteria for Documentation).
The Learning Specialist will contact you during 9th grade with information pertaining to the application process for all standardized tests. With your permission, the Learning Specialist will file an application for accommodations with the College Board sometime during 9th grade. If approved, accommodations cover all College Board tests (PSAT, SAT, SAT II, and Advanced Placement (AP) tests. Generally, the first College Board test will be the PSAT in the fall of 10th grade (see testing timeline below). In consultation with the College Counselors many students choose to take the ACT instead of the SAT which will require a separate application.Please note that approval of accommodations from a standardized testing agency is not guaranteed. For more information refer to the following websites: http://www.collegeboard.org/ssd or www.actstudent.org.
Previewing content and practicing skills are always helpful for students with learning challenges. We encourage you and your child to familiarize yourselves with ninth-grade literature, textbooks and other materials over the summer. These are listed online in the “course catalog” of the Upper School. For recommendations for organizational and study skills prep courses or content-based summer school classes, feel free to contact the Learning Specialist.
Lower School Counselor
Kristi Farnham Thompson
Lower School Learning Specialist
Student Wellness and Support Department Chair
Middle School Counselor
Middle School Learning Specialist
Upper School Counselor
(510) 531-1300 x2212
Upper School Health and Wellness Fellow
Upper School Learning Specialist