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Located in Braintree, Mass., Granite Academy is a dynamic day school for middle and high school-aged students who have social/emotional challenges that complicate their learning. Fully approved by the DESE, Granite is recognized for providing flexible, individualized programming and being completely dedicated to meeting the needs of its students, families, and the public school systems.
Braintree, MA 02184
Braintree, MA 02184
STUDENTS: When a student enters Granite Academy the first focus is learning their areas of strengths. Those strengths are then used to support areas of need. We believe that all students have skills and abilities that deserve to be fostered. Students are capable learners who may have specific learning disabilities that are supported through Granite Academy's multidisciplinary approach. The Granite Academy community celebrates the diverse identities of our student population as an integral part of the student’s daily experience.
APPROACH: Granite Academy’s team approaches each student through a trauma informed and strength base lens. Programming is developed on an individual basis from this perspective. Granite's school culture is one that engages students with respect, honesty, and openness. The team works with students individually and in small groups to support their full engagement in academic, vocational, social, and recreational activities that promote skill development, emotional well-being, and movement towards graduation. Granite works collaboratively with students, their families, collaterals, and the sending districts.
ACADEMICS: The school's team of licensed content and special education teachers provides a rich curriculum for students, which is aligned with the Common Core. Student learning is supported by the school's state-of-the-art technology center, where Chromebooks are available. The school offers a variety of electives, including vocational programming, and supports dual enrollment for interested students in local sending districts and in community colleges. The educational team specializes in individualizing instruction to meet the needs of each student.
CLINICAL: The school's team of master's-level clinicians provides ongoing, individualized support for students through regular individual and group meetings, family outreach, and collaboration with collateral contacts. Student goals are individualized and developed with the student, family, and team to support each student in developing skills to reach their goals. Students have access to full-time nursing and sensory integration support.
Granite Academy, a 501(c)(3) Massachusetts corporation, was founded in 1981. We moved to our Braintree Campus in 1990. We hold full approval from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a Chapter 766-approved special needs school.
Granite Academy’s Mission
Granite Academy is a vibrant school community that celebrates and encourages individuality - in the classroom and in life. Learning is individualized to meet the unique needs of each student, and is delivered with fully integrated social, emotional, and transitional supports. Our close partnerships with families and students, public schools and collateral agencies, combined with data driven interventions, enable us to support each student on their individual path to success.
Granite Academy’s Vision
Granite Academy recognizes that each student learns differently, and strives to provide students with a rich array of classroom, hands-on, and community-based learning opportunities, all supported by fully integrated clinical, emotional, social and transitional supports. We partner closely with students, parents and collateral team members and rely on their voices to plan for and achieve the students' goals. This collaborative process is used to design strategies that address our students' diverse academic and social/emotional goals to bring about sustainable, long-term success. The school supports this work with research-based, data-driven interventions which allow us to customize learning for each students' unique strengths and needs.
Granite Academy’s Values
Each student's personal voice and story
A strengths- based approach
Independence and self-advocacy
Collaborative approaches and partnership
The use of data to boost school performance
Granite Academy offers a Sexuality And Gender Alliance (SAGA) clinical group that students are able to sign up for when they enroll at Granite Academy. Since the creation of this group in 2018, anywhere from a quarter to half of our student body has joined and participated in this weekly clinical group. Students in SAGA are LGBTQIA+ identified students along with cisgender and straight allies who want to learn how to support the community. Students in SAGA learn about LGBTQIA+ communities and history, have a safe space to talk about their experiences, navigate and practice ways to be an ally to the community, along with plan LGBTQIA+ school wide events.
All our academic departments - Our passionate and licensed professionals deliver dynamic framework-driven instruction in small class sizes that adhere to an 8:1, 12:1:1 staff-to-student ratio. Our educators and clinicians collaborate on creative ways to differentiate instruction and unlock each students' unique potential.
Home/School Communication - Educational team is accessible to our families via email or phone. Scheduled appointments are available for the families and teachers for updates. All teachers communicate to the families via individualized emails and there are weekly updates to all of the community on all of the exciting work that goes on at Granite Academy. Our families are encouraged to attend the events sponsored by Granite Academy.
Student/Parent Portal - Granite Academy uses the student information system, Gradelink, to house student grades and schedules. Both parents and students have access via desktop or phone app to stay up to date on student progress.
Design and Implementation of the Individual Education Program (IEP) -The IEP Process in Granite Academy adheres to a true Team approach where everyone's voice is heard and active participation of a student and family is encouraged. During our student-centered meetings the data is discussed in detail and it drives the strength-based approach to accommodate each students' unique needs. The ultimate goal for all our students is to develop and practice independence skills to be generalized outside of Granite Academy in their post High School experience. The team actively collaborates to make sure that the education in Granite Academy meets the requirements of the district issuing the diploma.
Executive functioning support - Staff are trained on executive functioning and the importance it has on student success. Students are provided time to organize and transition from classes and 1:1 opportunities with staff are offered to build on executive functioning skills as needed.
Integrated Technology - Granite Academy supports learning with access to a wide range of digital instructional resources. All our students are provided an individual Chromebook. We utilize Google Classrooms with Google-supported tools in all of our classes to meet our students' needs and provide them with any necessary accommodations.
Credit recovery - For students who have not received passing credit for high school classes, we offer credit recovery options by partnering with student, family, and home districts to determine what credits need to be recovered. We work to design curricula and coursework to provide students with an opportunity to complete the missed coursework for high school credit.
Dual-enrollment opportunities - Granite Academy supports students who are interested in pursuing dual enrollment opportunities by taking college classes during their senior year at Granite Academy.
Art/ Website design/ Portfolios - Students have the opportunity to utilize our well-stocked Art Studio to learn a range of skills including acrylic/watercolor painting, drawing (charcoal, pastels, pencil), sculpture, typography, web design, and how to produce a portfolio.
Granite Academy’s clinical team focuses on the individual student and his/her/their unique needs. All clinicians start from a place of believing that our students have a desire to be successful and have the ability to make progress. Granite’s team of master's-level clinicians provides ongoing, individualized support for students through regularly scheduled individual and group sessions, in-the-moment therapeutic processing, family outreach, and collaboration with collateral contacts.
Treatment at Granite Academy is trauma informed and strength-based and is based on ARC theory. The ARC model of treatment focuses on three critical areas; attachment, regulation and competency. “A”, attachment, our students frequently have difficulty with their ability to form and maintain healthy relationships with others. “R”, regulation, the ability to regulate your emotional state is critical in being successful in all areas of your life. “C”, competency, we highlight and nurture individual student competencies leading to higher self-esteem, increased self-efficacy and overall greater life satisfaction. In addition, the concepts and interventions developed as a part of Michelle Garcia Winner’s social thinking philosophy inform all aspects of our students’ days. Social Thinking theory conceptualizes weak social skills as a skills deficit with a focus on teaching skills to improve social functioning across various settings. In addition, Granite Academy’s approach to clinical services includes other treatment modalities such as CBT, DBT and person-centered treatment to form an eclectic approach to working with each student. Clinicians develop treatment plans with a focus on each student’s specific needs given their history, current functioning, future goals and the built in sources of support in their lives.
- Read More about Clinical Services at Granite Academy
Clinical services at Granite Academy target student strengths and interests to increase their involvement in their treatment with a belief that progress and success can be achieved. There are a number of ways that clinicians support students as they build their academic, social and emotional skills.
Students have regularly scheduled individual sessions with their clinician. In addition clinicians are available on an as needed basis to support the generalization of skills/techniques learned in session to in-the-moment situations. The scheduling of clinicians as back-ups within the classroom further supports the focus on generalization of skills that are explored within sessions. Clinicians also work with students and their families to develop meaningful short-term and long-term goals that match the student’s current academic, social and emotional needs.
Group therapy is offered on a weekly basis to all students. Numerous types of groups are offered so that each student’s interests and needs can be addressed. The format of groups vary according to student interest to ensure high levels of engagement. The specific groups offered at any one time change according to student interest and treatment needs. The follow is an example of some of the groups offered:
Personal Resource Education Group – A psychoeducational group designed to support students as they explore topics such as self-advocacy, making healthy choices, developing emotional regulation tools and growing self-awareness within the context of working with others. There are a number of themed groups that cover this information in a less formal, more experiential format. Some of those groups are:
Self-Care - Focuses on identifying various aspects of self-care, exposing students to various self-care tools, practicing these tools to discover what works for each individual and then exploring ways for students to incorporate these self-care practices in their daily lives.
Therapeutic Sketching - Develops student’s awareness of their emotional state, their ability to name their feelings and then use this activity as a coping tool to ring about emotional regulation. In addition students are encouraged to think about the benefits of having a leisure activity that they enjoy, they find regulating and is an easily accessible part of their everyday life.
Mindful Crafting - This group uses the activity of creating a variety of crafts as a vehicle to support students in recognizing their level of emotional regulation and using a hobby as a tool for regulating their energy level and emotional state. Students are encouraged to express their individuality in each of the crafting projects. Students are also encouraged to reflect on which activities they enjoyed and which were not as relaxing for them. They are challenged to think about what characteristics of a hobby make it relaxing and regulating for them. In addition, particular attention is paid to the development of numerous social skills including taking turns and giving / receiving compliments.
Pragmatic Language Group – Based on Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking theory. The group is designed to support the strengthening of a student’s social skills, including non-verbal and verbal communication, perspective taking and conversation skills. Similar to Personal Resource Education groups there are a number of themed groups that cover this information in a less formal, more experiential format. Some of those groups are:
Social Games - During this group students are able to practice their social interaction skills during an informal, natural activity. Students participate in games that encourage turn-taking, sportsmanship and leadership skills. Participants also focus on being able to read and act upon the non-verbal communication of their peers as well as recognize the non-verbal cues they are sending to others during game play.
Creative Mode - During this group students practice verbal and non verbal social communication as well as perspective taking skills as they utilize hands on skills as well as their personal interests to create a 3D map of a video game, movie or TV show world that they would like to recreate. Specifically referencing the Minecraft video game increases interest and excitement among students. Their creations promote collaboration of shared ideas among peers. Students use a plethora of art mediums and materials to create a multimedia piece of work they will be able to display at the end of the trimester.
SAGA (Sexuality and Gender Alliance) – Designed to support students as they explore topics such as self-advocacy, making healthy choices, and growing self-awareness through the lens of the LGBTQ+ community.
Granite Academy clinicians maintain contact, share information and develop meaningful goals for all students through ongoing contact and collaboration with all community based treatment providers. Clinicians are happy to participate in team meetings/progress meetings that are arranged by community based treatment providers. Granite Academy clinicians are a meaningful part of the students’ treatment team, ensuring consistency in goals and treatment techniques between home and school.
Sensory Integration Support
Granite Academy provides students with sensory integration support as a part of the daily norm within our community. For some, the many experiences felt through the senses -- touch, smell, hearing, taste, sight, proprioception and vestibular -- can become overwhelming and/or difficult to fully process effectively. We develop sensory tools to be included in treatment plans to either decrease or increase arousal levels, depending on individual needs. These plans are then implemented throughout the learning environment to provide support as students strive for success. Sensory tools are available for in-class use, use in the therapeutic milieu, in the sensory room or in either of Granite Academy’s two libraries. Students take an active role in developing their sensory plan in conjunction with parents/guardians and community based treatment providers. Students are encouraged to use many of these sensory tools at home and in the community as well as at school.
Granite Academy is the home to a number of animals that are able to provide emotional regulation and support. Our fish, hermit crabs, rabbit, goats and sheep can all be a part of a student’s treatment plan in a number of ways. Animals can be used as a coping tool at times of dysregulation. The animals are used as an individualized incentive. The animals can also be used as a source of competency. Interested students are a part of animal care through the animal care enrichment class as well as through having a specialized job in relation to caring for the animals.
Granite Academy is so proud to be able to provide Equine therapy to a group of our students each trimester. Equine facilitated therapy includes various equine related activities intended to enhance the therapeutic process through engaging in the horse-human relationship. Horses naturally mirror humans’ energy, seek relationships, and provide in the moment responses to feedback through which participants can learn about themselves. Engaging in this dynamic allows participants to progress towards their therapeutic goals, which may include emotion identification/regulation, interpersonal skills, executive functioning, self-identity development, competency development, and trauma integration. Equine related activities can be mounted (riding the horse), or unmounted (working with the horse from the ground, e.g. grooming, leading). Equine therapy is able to be offered due to a generous, recurring donation by a Granite Academy alumni.
Our therapeutic milieu supports the health and strength of each student, which in turn contributes to a positive and supportive community. The therapeutic milieu is staffed throughout the day by a milieu coordinator who is able to support each student as they implement their individualized plans. Milieu coordinators work closely with clinicians to develop treatment plans that address the needs of each student when they do not feel that they can be successful in the classroom at that moment. The goal of the therapeutic milieu is to be a place where a student can become emotionally regulated and then return to the classroom as an active learner.
This is a highly structured motivational intervention system with a focus on successful engagement in classroom activities and learning. The system utilizes detailed data collection, which allows staff, students, and parents to measure progress in time in the classroom and academic engagement as well as progress toward social and emotional goals. Individual goals are tracked over the course of the week and students who meet their goal participate in an incentive block at the end of the day on Fridays. Goals can be updated/changed at any time but are formally reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure that they are neither too difficult, leading to frustration nor too easy, which would decrease the growth/learning experience for the student.
Transition programming at Granite Academy provides both academic and experiential learning opportunities for all students. The ultimate goal of all transition opportunities is to support student growth at school, at home, in the community, and in the workplace as the student moves toward greater independence and competency. Transition services at Granite Academy provide a number of different opportunities for students to learn these skills.
Skills 4 Living class
The Skills 4 Living class is designed to support our students in building their knowledge and skills to improve their independence to effectively deal with the challenges of everyday life. Every student at Granite Academy is enrolled in a Skills 4 Living class starting in middle school through their last year at Granite Academy, with an increased emphasis during junior and senior year. The curriculum evolves with each student as they progress through each school year and as they make plans for a successful transition from high school. Course Goals and Curriculum Topics
Independent Living Skills Track
The Independent Living Skills track includes 3 courses which offer exposure to necessary life skills through experiential opportunities. These classes are offered to a small group of juniors and seniors who are identified as needing the extra time, with an emphasis on real life experiences to increase their independent living skills. The students are identified through a collaboration of the transition coordinator and the student’s school counselor with input from
families and teachers, with a focus on their current functioning, needs, and goals. The 3 classes in this track are: Functional Skills, Community Skills, and Culinary Skills.
Functional Skills: Course Description (Functional Skills)
Community Skills: Course Description (Community Skills)
Culinary Skills: Course Description (Culinary Skills)
Job Readiness Program
The Job Readiness Program is offered every year to support students in learning job readiness skills through hands-on experiences. This is not a graded class, however it is an important part of the transition program. Each job provides the students the opportunity to learn real life skills that they can apply outside of Granite Academy as well as providing work experience when they apply for a job in their community. In addition, students practice time management since they are excused from class participation for any class they miss when working but they are responsible to ask for and complete any classwork they missed.
Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Partnership
Granite Academy offers the Pre-Employment and Training Service program designed by Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) on a weekly basis to a small group of identified juniors and seniors. MRC contracts with WORK Inc who sends an instructor to work specifically with Granite Academy students at a pace that meets their needs. The Pre-ETS program meets for 1.5 hours each week. The Granite Academy transition coordinator attends all
sessions so that they can support Granite students in fully integrating and generalizing the skills taught as part of this program. Components of the Pre-ETS program include: job exploration, work readiness training, work-based learning, post-secondary/vocational exploration, and self advocacy. The Pre-ETS program includes the ability to job shadow, not only virtually, but also to job shadow in person in areas of student interest when available. For students who demonstrate the necessary readiness skills, the Pre-ETS program will support them in identifying a paid internship for a total of between 40-80 hours. They look for internships close to the student’s home and will include travel training (as needed) so that the student can get from home to their internship safely.
College and Career Fair – This annual event brings 2- and 4-year colleges, trade schools, youth building organizations, and employers together with students and their parents
College and post-secondary training school visits – Each year students visit colleges and trade schools to get first-hand information about program offerings and information about campus life
Dual Enrollment - Granite Academy seniors, with approval from the Granite Academy team, guardians, sending district, and other stakeholders, may choose to participate in a dual enrollment opportunity. A student considering getting a head start on their college degree, learning strategies for a successful transition from high school to college, or experiencing college life while getting support from Granite Academy may be required to take college placement examinations in reading, writing, and mathematics, and meet all course prerequisites to find an appropriate academic fit for their college classes.
Our graduates have attended a variety of college level programming including: U-Mass Amherst, U-Mass Dartmouth, U-Mass Boston, Bridgewater State University, Mass Art, Quincy College, Framingham State University, Plymouth State University, Massasoit Community College and Bunker Hill Community College.
Transition Coordinator Office Hours
Granite Academy's transition coordinator has weekly “office hours” when they are available to meet with students and answer specific questions or offer support in specific areas as needed. As another way of increasing independence, students who wish to meet with the transition coordinator need to formulate and articulate the question they have and then sign up for time during office hours ahead of time. Having the transition coordinator solve a problem for the student is not the goal of their time together. Instead the transition coordinator will listen to the question or the description of the problem, help the student narrow down their need and then give them resources they need to solve their problem.
- Student Government (SG) is an integral part of the school experience. As the governing body of Granite Academy, it is with passion, pride and purpose that Student Government (SG) lets our vibrance emit throughout our community. We celebrate and encourage individuality and strength amongst our members. Our pride drives our charitable outreach within our community. We have partnered with such organizations as Cradles to Crayons, local food banks, and Big Brother Big Sister. Our outreach continues through conducting food drives and clothing drives giving our students the opportunity to be a part of something special. It gives SG members the opportunity to create and experience community, thus providing a forum for a strong sense of self.
- Mathlete Club is a student group where they get together to celebrate their love of math. Over the last 6 years Granite Academy has held 1-2 competitions/events for students from different JRI day schools in which we make math the main subject of focus for a day. Students who enjoy math (or are just interested in it!) are encouraged to participate in various types of activities related to math. Events in the past include Math Jeopardy, Pokemon, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, puzzles, and even a math carnival. During these events students answer math questions or play math related games as members of a team. Prizes are awarded for participating at various levels or as part of a raffle where they earned tickets for playing the games. Overall, Mathletes is an opportunity for students to showcase their talents in academic areas and allow the students to socialize with students at different day schools.
- Soccer and Basketball at Granite Academy is an opportunity for our students to participate in organized team sports. We encourage all students to try both sports even if they have no prior experience playing. The games tend to be more competitive in nature than our typical physical education classes. We play other therapeutic day schools, which involves hosting opposing teams at our school as well as traveling to other programs during the school day. There are also annual “Students vs Staff” games that always make for an exciting day.
- School Assembly- Every month, the Granite Academy community comes together to recognize students’ strengths, dedication, and achievements. This ritual is very meaningful to our students. Gathering as a community gives our students a sense of normalcy and empowers them through highlighting their accomplishments. We end our celebratory meetings with a time for students to acknowledge each other's strengths and skills.
- School Show Performances- Throughout the year, Granite Academy offers three different times students can showcase their talents; Ciderhouse Jam, an opportunity for students to sing or play an instrument, Poetry Slam, an opportunity for students to foster expression and creativity openly with the microphone, and our Talent Show, a time for students to share skills whether creating a art piece, to doing comedian.
- Graduates Panel – Granite Academy graduates return to talk about their transitions to college and work and share their experiences and advice on meeting the challenges.
- Field Day is an annual celebration of the ending of the school year. Everyone comes together as a community outside in our Learning Park to participate in fun games and activities. The events are planned with a broad spectrum of interest in mind. It is the goal to have something for everyone to enjoy during field day. Students work together to compete in games that are physical, creative, and or strategic. Field Day is a great opportunity for our students to socialize with all their peers and staff of Granite Academy.
- Campus Beautification Day – Students and staff pitch in to plant flowers in the Learning Park
Science Classroom equipped with tools for Scientific Process exploration
Natural lighting throughout the school for a healthier learning environment
Wellness Room, exercise equipment
Kitchen / Culinary training area
Expressive Art room
Individual counseling offices
Career and college resource room
Personal space and sensory areas
Outside Learning Park- Outdoor classroom, walking path
Half outdoor basketball court
"Granite Academy isn't just a school, it's a place where you find yourself, where anything can be accomplished as long as you tried and pushed yourself through. There wasn't an option for failure, you picked yourself back up and continued to march on and succeed. The things I saw over there opened my eyes, people helping each other and supporting each other. The staff were always ready to not only educate you, but to help you achieve your goals and fix your problems." - Matthew P. (former student)