The Pinnacle Difference
At The Pinnacle School, social cognition and executive function skills are the foundation of our program. Together with a challenging hands-on, multisensory curriculum, we meet students where they are and carefully raise the bar to ensure they are met with success while simultaneously teaching them how to overcome challenges.
We focus on rebuilding self-esteem, resilience, and an enthusiasm for learning by identifying students’ strengths, creating opportunities for small successes, and building on those daily. Students begin to see their own potential and gain confidence.
We include our students as insightful members of their team. By doing so, they learn the important role they have in their own problem-solving, and we teach them the strategies to make meaningful strides forward. This individualized and scaffolded approach enables our students to reach their true potential, and flourish.
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Social cognition is the foundation of effective communication and relationships. In order for students to interpret the social world around them, they must get the “whole picture” and understand the hidden messages behind both verbal and nonverbal actions and intentions.
According to Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking framework, social cognition is, “The process by which we interpret the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, knowledge and actions of another person along with the context of the situation to understand that person’s experience.” Our curriculum is designed to foster the development of social self-awareness, perspective-taking or Theory of Mind, self regulation, executive functioning, social-emotional understanding, and social skills.
Many of our students intellectually know the rules but they can’t apply it in the moment. We teach these skills in specific classes and most importantly, embed it throughout the day by coaching student in the moment. Our staff is skilled at teaching students to apply and practice social cognition, and eventually, ‘own’ those skills. Our social cognition curriculum is research oriented and integrates the work of Michelle Garcia Winner, Jeanette McAfee, Ellen McGinnis, and Jed E. Baker, among others. Students gain insight into social reciprocity—the give and take of communication—and learn ways to build and maintain friendships. Our program promotes positive, effective social interactions through both direct and indirect instruction. We also provide our students with ample opportunities to utilize these skills in natural social settings.
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Our comprehensive Career and College Counseling Program ensures the development of a cohesive plan that prepares students for college and beyond and begins as soon as they enter ninth grade. Students work in small groups during their freshman year and starting in sophomore year, meet individually once a week with our College and Career Counselor, who guides students in identifying their interests, learning styles and abilities and how these relate to college majors and careers.
Throughout their high school career, students are assessed using formal and informal career and vocational testing for the purpose of post secondary exploration which helps students to better understand themselves and their personal learning style. Assessments include the Meyers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), the world’s most widely used personality assessment.
The College Counseling process focuses on the following:
- Identification of Social, Academic and Emotional Strengths
- Individualized Creation of a Post Secondary Pathway
- Exploration of Personal and Academic Interests
- Individual and Small Group Counseling
- Life Skills Assessments
- Standardized Testing Preparation and Planning
- College Application Assistance
- Course Selection and Academic Planning for High School and Beyond
- Executive Functions, Time Management, Organization, Study Skills
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At Pinnacle, we believe that language is a foundational building block for academic and personal success. The ability to communicate well includes being able to listen, speak, read, and write. These fundamental abilities run through the core of the human experience. The Pinnacle Speech and Language Program focuses on these four areas by integrating language development into all forms of learning, across all settings.
All programs are individualized. Depending on each student’s needs, services are provided in individual sessions, small structured groups, or integrated into classes.
Areas of focus include:
- Following Multi-Step Directions
- Paying Attention to Auditory Information in Order to Retain, Organize, Conceptualize & Synthesize
- Recounting or Describing Events
- Using Context Clues to Understand Meaning
- Developing & Expanding Receptive & Expressive Vocabulary
- Expressing Oneself in a Clear & Concise Manner
- Grasping the Main Idea of a Conversation or Story
- Distinguishing Relevant from Irrelevant Details
- Making Inferences & Predictions
- Understanding Abstract & Figurative Language, Innuendos & Humor
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Our behavioral staff is skilled at determining why a student might be engaging in a specific behavior in a given situation. Once this is determined they are able to facilitate the development of lagging skills thus enabling that student to replace their impulsive response with something more socially appropriate given the situation.
At Pinnacle, our primary goal is to ensure that our students feel safe, secure, and comfortable so they can build strong relationships with the staff, other students, and members of the community. Staff work to develop a strong rapport with students in order to identify their interests and motivators. Our emphasis is on designing a learning environment in which interfering behaviors are proactively managed. Students are given opportunities to work on merging skills in a facilitated, controlled environment, allowing them to be better prepared for real-world situations.
- Makes students active participants in the creation of an individualized plan
- Teaches appropriate ways to communicate needs
- Implements structured breaks throughout the day
- Provides tools to combat anxiety
- Develops abilities to be flexible and cope with unexpected changes
- Enables active communication between home and school to create continuity and consistency
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The focus of OT at Pinnacle is to address students’ individual sensory and motor needs in order to improve their overall performance in the school setting and beyond. Our program focuses on sensory integration theory and praxis skill development in order to remediate critical foundational skills. In addition, the OT team collaborates with teachers to provide sensory supports and classroom modifications to help students meet the demands of the classroom environment.
Pinnacle has a state-of-the-art Occupational Therapy (OT) gymnasium space equipped with suspended equipment and interactive tools selected to support the growth and development of our diverse community of learners. In addition to individual OT services that may be part of a student’s individual program, many of our lower and middle school students participate in a Sensory Boost during various times of the school day. The Sensory Boost serves as a vital tool to help students regulate their sensory systems for optimal success and participation in classroom activities. Occupational Therapy at Pinnacle helps support:
- Vision & Auditory Skills
- Postural Control & Motor Coordination
- Gross & Fine Motor Development
- Planning & Sequencing Abilities
- Vestibular & Somatosensory Processing
Skill improvements allow students to achieve greater success with:
- Problem Solving
- Executive Functions
- Reaching a Higher Level of Cognitive Functioning
- Adapting & Performing in an Ever-Changing School Environment