The latest COVID resurgence has caused operational challenges, but it hasn’t stopped the school from moving forward with a number of initiatives. Ninety-five percent of our staff and 70% of our students are vaccinated, which has protected against serious illness, but not against getting the virus. CEO Larry Sauer reports that the school is running all programs and taking necessary safety precautions:
- All staff wear masks in vans and inside the school
- Students who can wear masks, do
- Desks are six feet apart along with social distancing protocols
- Students and staff with symptoms or positive COVID tests must stay at home
- The nursing staff is screening staff and students daily for symptoms
“Despite the pandemic, we’re not stopping our plans to move forward with a number of initiatives,” said Larry. “Our staff has done an amazing job to continue our students’ educational advancement despite very challenging times.”
Playground Installation Almost Complete
A construction crew is installing the all-new playground and covered pavilion with expected completion in the next few weeks. “Our students enjoy being outdoors, and the covered pavilion offers additional classroom space in a safe venue,” said Larry. “The new swings and play equipment will provide hours of enjoyment along with sensory and gross motor skill benefits.”
Strategic Plan Goes to Board at the End of the Month
After a 10-month process, the Strategic Plan goes to the Board of Directors on January 25. The plan positions the school for future growth and provides a three-year roadmap. The Board will also consider recommendations for the Moosehill Road property, which the school purchased a while back. It will also discuss a number of student recruitment options. Goals cover core school programs:
- Transitioning to life after school
“One goal that we’re already working on is staff recruitment and retention,” said Larry. “We’re working with maaps and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to increase compensation, and already offer sign-on bonuses for hard-to-fill positions.” Additionally, if a current staff member refers someone who the school hires, the staff member receives a recruitment bonus. Other incentives under consideration include tuition reimbursement and university-provided educational opportunities.
Other goals in process include:
- Transitioning the residential program from a care-only to educational model
- Expanding the reach of the development program
- Creating a marketing program
- Increasing the number of vocational opportunities
Larry spoke at the January 19 Old Colony YMCA Board of Directors meeting to encourage YMCA organizations to consider providing vocational options to League School students. He outlined how League School students offer critical help to area organizations, including the school’s partnership with the YMCA’s Community Market at Stoughton (link to article in this issue).
SOAR Management Consulting Group assisted the school with the Strategic Plan at no cost. “SOAR Management was a pleasure to work with and guided us along the process, with our internal committee handling the day-to-day work,” said Larry. The committee – composed of administrative staff, Board members, a former teacher and Board Certified Behavior Analyst, a residential manager, and a Friends of League member – met frequently. They elicited feedback from school districts, parents, and staff to identify strategies to move the school forward with its mission of helping students develop to their fullest potential.
Spring Neurodiversity Program Will Complement Vocational Outreach
This spring, the school will offer a 90-minute Neurodiversity Training workshop. Director of Allied Health, Lindsay Wagner, and Speech-Language Pathologist and Department Head, Chrissy Bunnell, are developing this program to help community partners understand the kinds of adaptations needed for students to work at their highest level in the workplace. We’ll also be inviting parents and school districts.
“Our students are an untapped employment market and offer a solution to businesses struggling to recruit employees,” said Larry. “Our goal is to spread the word to area businesses and make this workshop available for use in other venues, like Chambers of Commerce meetings.”