STEP Up for Success
STEP can often be a place of small miracles. We see students in our program make major improvements in very short periods of time. The success of STEP's students proves to us how valuable a short, intensive intervention can be at the right time.
Here are a few their stories:
Diagnosed with dyslexia at an early age, Sarah disliked school and was frustrated, angry and aggressive towards her classmates and teachers. Her family engaged numerous experts to consult on her behavioral and learning disabilities, but nothing seemed to help.
Counselors at STEP sought to address Sarah’s underlying emotional issues while teachers engaged her academically. At STEP, Sarah expressed something she’d never thought possible: that she actually enjoyed learning. Sarah is now in a new school where she is making friends and fully participating in the classroom. Her parents believe that her time at STEP helped turn her life around.
A ninth grader with a history of emotional problems, Mike struggled with anger, ADD and depression. He was unhappy in his public school and apathetic about his future. After being hospitalized for a month with severe depression and fears of suicide, his special education director referred him to STEP.
STEP helped Mike build self-esteem by encouraging him to rediscover his strengths. Teachers organized specialized field trips for him and offered academic challenges that piqued his interests. At STEP, he benefited from the program’s high staff-to-student ratio and clear expectations. When the program ended, STEP helped him and his family find a new school placement where he has continued to make strong progress.
Elizabeth had a difficult childhood: her father was an alcoholic, her mother, anorexic. Her parents separated when Elizabeth was a ninth grader, and Elizabeth developed symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Following a series of hospitalizations related to depression and substance abuse, Elizabeth was referred to STEP.
Elizabeth found STEP to be a safe and encouraging environment, and she began to talk about her family and her behavior. She developed a strong relationship with her therapist and finally opened up about her history—and her hopes and dreams for the future. With the help of STEP, Elizabeth successfully transitioned to a therapeutic-day school and continues on her path to recovery.
Magarite was adopted from Guatemala at the age of seven and came to the United States without speaking a word of English. She was immediately placed in an English-speaking classroom without any extra help, which left her at a severe disadvantage, both emotionally and academically. Before she was referred to STEP in the seventh grade, Magarite had been hospitalized eight times for severe depression and anxiety.
Magarite quickly acclimated to STEP’s caring and nurturing environment. For the first time in her life, she wasn’t “behind” in anything. STEP’s curriculum combined her school assignments with those appropriate to her academic level. With the help of a therapist, Magarite worked on coping skills. After completion of the assessment, she transitioned to a new day school, where she continues her emotional and academic development.
Randall's story is one that is far too common in our cities. Family life was chaotic with financial and marital difficulties so Randall grew up living with different relatives and without any real supervision. Just when he was about to enter high school, Randall's father was tragically murdered. No child can be expected to recover from the death of a parent without incredible care and support. Randall's, however, felt very much alone. He refused to speak about his family issues to anyone at his large urban school. After multiple verbal altercations with students and faculty, Randall was referred to STEP.
STEP counselors helped Randall explore some of his feelings of sadness, grief and anger while his teachers assessed his academic skills. A sharp, insightful teacher discovered that Randall was extremely intelligent, but that he also suffered from a language-based learning disability. Randall, it turned out, could only read at a first-grade level—even though he had an impressive sight vocabulary. Working closely with a reading specialist, Randall began to re-learn how to read. When his stay at STEP ended, Randall returned to his public high school with an IEP that helped his teachers meet his needs. Today he is a proud and successful member of the track team and is now reading above grade-level. He continues to receive outpatient counseling to deal with his grief, but is now excited about his future.