CLINICAL SERVICES SUPPORT

Vision 

The Clinical Services Team is committed to helping opportunity youth and young adults build emotional capacity and equip them with the non-cognitive skills necessary to negotiate and overcome many of the adverse life events they experience at home and in the community. 

The Clinical Services Team is committed to helping all students and scholars better advocate for themselves and take ownership of their academic experience.  Additionally, through targeted clinical interventions, the Clinical Service Team aims to teach students and scholars the skills necessary to self-regulate and better respond to stressful situations at school.  We are hopeful this will lead to a positive school experience and improved overall connectedness.   

The Maya Angelou Schools’ is a network of public charter schools and relationship-centered learning community that utilizes a holistic approach in the development of academic, career/workforce readiness, social, and emotional skills.  Currently, the Maya Angelou Schools and See Forever Foundation operate three stand-alone campuses which serve opportunity youth ranging in age from 14-29.  Given the different settings, many of the students that enroll at the Maya Angelou Schools, have been disengaged and disconnected from their respective school experiences.  Additionally, more than 70% of the students within the network of schools, self-report they have experienced significant trauma exposure.  

In response to the various challenges and stressful life events our students are forced to negotiate, the Maya Angelou Schools prides itself on being a trauma-sensitive community which provides a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students.  While trauma-sensitivity tends to look different at every campus, one common theme are the intentional efforts made by all Maya Angelou staff to form positive connections with all students.  At the Maya Angelou Schools, we believe these efforts make it easier for students to self-regulate and behave appropriately, feel more confident about their academic progress, and make meaningful friendships with their peers.   

Trauma-sensitive school communities tend to consist of the following core attributes (Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, 2019): 

  • A shared understanding among all staff; 
  • The school supports all children to feel safe physically, socially, emotionally, and academically; 
  • The school addresses students’ needs in holistic ways, taking into account their relationships, self-regulation, academic competence, and physical and emotional well-being; 
  • The school explicitly connects students to the school community and provides multiple opportunities to practice newly developing skills; 
  • The school embraces teamwork and staff share responsibility for all students; 
  • Leadership and administration anticipating and adapting to the ever-changing needs of students. 

To that end, an essential component of the Maya Angelou Schools’ programming is the delivery of integrated mental health services.  At the Maya Angelou Schools, mental health clinicians provide both group and individual counseling services to all students (and in some cases, family members).  Recognizing and committing resources in this area is one of the major differences between the Maya Angelou Schools and other schools in the District.   We believe that every student benefits from having dedicated professionals whose major responsibility is a student’s emotional growth and well-being.  In order to reach this vision, the Maya Angelou Schools recognize that incorporating mental health services as an integral part of the school program, is critical to the success of our students.   

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Who We Are 

To achieve these goals, the Clinical Services Department follows a strength-based approach to enable students to achieve the following (5) core Social Emotional Learning (SEL) competencies, as created by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL): 

❖      Self-Awareness 

❖      Self-Management/Regulation 

❖       Social Awareness  

❖       Relationship Skills 

❖      Responsible Decision-Making  

SEL as a guiding framework, is effective in working with opportunity youth in various settings.  At the Maya Angelou Schools, we pride ourselves on providing comprehensive and academic, behavioral, and emotional programming for our students, across multiple campuses.  One out of every four children attending school have been exposed to a traumatic event that can affect learning and/or behavior (American Institutes for Research, 2019), and our students self-report at almost three times this rate.  As such, our trauma-informed practices, allow us to provide a safe, nurturing, and equitable academic learning experience for our students, while forming meaningful relationships with families.  Additionally, students who actively participate in SEL programming, typically perform better academically, tend to exhibit improved classroom behavior, have a better attitude about themselves and others and an increased ability to manage stress. Many of these SEL skills involve recognition and management of emotions. We believe that mastering these competencies allows students to seek and receive the instruction, support and guidance that are required for success.  We believe that approaches that stress positive relationships and education about impact of not managing your emotions, can lead to academic and personal success.  Improving the social emotional skills of our students requires an approach that must be included in all facets of the school program.  

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Fostering Resilience 

Historically, Maya Angelou students have presented with a host of risk factors and most of our students rarely have the coping devices to negotiate these stressful life occurrences.  To that end, the thrust of our clinical work is rooted in the idea of resiliency, or grit, as it is the thing that allows our students to persevere even through the most challenging of circumstances. If we can identify the areas of strength in our students, we can work to enhance these attributes to use in the prevention of later difficulties, all while working to boost resilience in areas where it may be less developed. 

Below are some of the agencies/institutions that have agreed to partner with us in this work: 

Community Partners 

  • Artspace Therapy 
  • Department of Behavioral Health   
  • Hillcrest Children & Family Center 
  • The Howard University, School-Based Behavioral Health Program 
  • Wendt Center for Grieving & Loss   
  • The Love More Movement 
  • Sasha Bruce/Teen Outreach Program (TOP) 
  • Catholic University –  School of Social Work   
  • Howard University – School of Social Work 
  • Fordham University – School of Social Work 
  • Simmons College – School of Social Work 
  • George Washington University – Graduate School of Education and Human Development 

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For more information about the Clinical Offices Support, please contact Kamal Wright Cunningham at kcunningham@seeforever.org