Founded in 1967, Mount Carmel Guild Academy moved to its current location in West Orange, for the start of the 2003 - 2004 school year, after twenty-three years in Newark. A special education school of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, Mount Carmel Guild Academy is a private, non-profit, non-sectarian, coeducational school offering a comprehensive program for learning and behaviorally disabled children in grades K through 12. The schoolís 200-day program focuses on providing an educationally and clinically supportive environment for students between the ages of 5 and 21. A certified teacher of the handicapped leads each class with the assistance of an instructional aide. Daily lesson plans reflect each studentís IEP, which is collaboratively developed by the parent, child study team case manager and MCG Academy personnel. In addition, students are able to continue their academic and behavioral program in the summer by attending the MCGA Extended School Year program.
With the start of the 2006 - 2007 school year, classes for children classified with autism spectrum disorder were opened. Following the principles of ABA, each student works one-to-one with an adult, participating in discrete trial instruction, working on readiness skills, receptive and expressive language, pre-academic skills and skills of independent living.
Students are referred by their home school districts for enrollment at MCG Academy. Referral materials are reviewed by both administrative and clinical staff. If appropriate, a student is then invited for an intake interview, along with their parent / guardian and child study team case manager. Following the intake interview, prospective students are invited to return to the Academy for a one-day trial visit. If all is successful and appropriate, an offer of acceptance is then extended to the parent and child study team.
Students are provided with a strong therapeutic environment, which utilizes both individual and group interaction in an effort to promote the development of positive and effective coping skills. Our Social Workers provide case management services and individual and group counseling (as indicated in the studentís IEP). They coordinate communication among the school, sending district, and the family and support agencies with which the students may be involved. In addition to assisting in crisis intervention, a clinician, who is a Certified School Counselor, conducts social skills groups with each of the schoolís classes twice a week to develop effective and appropriate interpersonal skills. Each clinician assists in the monitoring of the schoolís Problem Solving Room. This room is a "time out" space where students who are experiencing difficulties can be given the opportunity to regain self-control. There they explore more appropriate and productive responses to stress, increased anxiety and anger in order to rejoin their classes and participate in the educational process.
In addition to the counseling component, Mount Carmel Guild Academy offers speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy to those students whose IEP indicates a need for such remediation. Also, a certified music therapist conducts weekly sessions with each of the classes. These sessions are intended to increase self-awareness, self-esteem and positive and appropriate peer interaction.
Throughout the school year, students are provided with opportunities to participate in activities outside of the school. These activities include trips to bowling, ice-skating, roller-skating, The Newark Museum, the Yogi Berra Museum at Montclair State University, NJ PAC, and the PNC Bank Arts Center. Participating in these outings gives students the opportunity to experience a wide variety of activities outside of the classroom.
High school students are provided a New Jersey State approved academic curriculum, and the entire student body is mainstreamed creating a regular high school atmosphere. The curriculum consists of all academic subjects that are taught on appropriate levels geared to meet the needs of each studentís Individualized Education Plan. Approved academic offerings include: Mathematics, Language Arts, Supplementary Literacy Program, Science, Social Studies, Physical Education, and Health. Furthermore, students are exposed to a wide variety of electives geared specifically for educational growth including Computer Technology, Fine Arts, Building Trades, Culinary Arts, and Music.
Students are also provided with related services such as individual and group counseling and transition services. The transition program is designed to enable students to utilize their creative talents and gain practical experiences. In addition to the related services, Mount Carmel Guild Academy has implemented a behavior management program to help students recognize and promote positive behaviors
Overall, it is hoped that with the development of more effective coping and interpersonal skills, students are able to become less easily distracted during the learning process. As students experience increased academic and behavioral success, they become stronger candidates to be considered for return to their home districts at the completion of the Academy program.