Skyline Academy Supports Kids as Pandemic Continues

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It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused anxiety for kids since March of 2020. But despite the changes and uncertainties throughout the past nearly two years, staff at the WellPower’s Skyline Academy have continued to find creative ways to help their students succeed. 

What is Skyline Academy?

Skyline Academy is an intensive needs facility school for students K-8, located at Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being. Students have an identified special education disability documented on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), as well as mental health needs.

“We have a strong mental health focus and do things with a trauma-informed lens,” said Tara Butler, Special Education Director. “We infuse our day with social-emotional groups and individual supports for our kids.”

The school also provides

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Family therapy and parenting support
  • Medication appointments
  • Art and music therapies

Who Does Skyline Academy Serve?

Skyline Academy supports students from various school districts whose needs exceed what their district can support. 

For example, kids might have:

  • Difficulty regulating their emotions and coping with them in socially appropriate ways
  • Anxiety due to traumatic experiences
  • High truancy, or absenteeism, that has a mental health component

The school has a maximum of 24 students, and most are enrolled for about a year before returning to a public school setting. 

Engaging Kids During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The school has mainly provided in-person services throughout the pandemic, but from April through August of 2020, they conducted classes remotely via Zoom. 

“We work with kids who can be off-task and difficult to engage in person, and the idea of engaging them over the screen was a challenge at first,” Tara said. “But we were actually able to develop a different, more intimate set of relationships with our kids and their families.” 

Boxes of Food & Personalized Education Resources

Throughout the first few weeks of the pandemic, they delivered food boxes to students and their families. They also dropped off educational supplies, including books and notebooks.

“We put together boxes for each kid based on what they liked to do,” Tara said. “For example, one child liked to read the dictionary, and one was really interested in World War II.”

Technology Support

As the pandemic continued, Skyline Academy provided computers and Wi-Fi devices to families. They also offered individual support on how to use the technology. 

“Kids love to show off, and they enjoyed sharing what their space looked like, or showing their pets,” Tara said. “It was the exact same thing that we’ve had fun doing as adults when we’re working remotely. We enjoy seeing someone’s dog in their background, or seeing what someone has on their walls, and it was the same for our kids.” 

Virtual Field Trips

A big part of Skyline Academy is helping children develop the skills they need in community settings – not just the classroom. 

“It does nothing if you teach a child to regulate their emotions in the classroom, but they can’t control those emotions when they’re at a 7-Eleven or somewhere in their community,” Tara said. “Our ability to go on field trips or even play at a nearby park had changed. We had to find different ways to expose our kids to those experiences.”

So, now the team brings people from the community to Dahlia Campus instead by tapping into local libraries, museums and theater groups. And, they utilize other tools, such as virtual tours of organizations and digital offerings from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

“Public groups have amazingly stepped up with access to resources throughout the pandemic,” Tara said.