Soaring Eagle Academy

About Us

Our Mission

To provide an academic and social learning environment for students with special needs that supports their individual strengths and learning styles and integrates learning and interaction within Developmental Language Models and Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship (DIR®) based approach principles.

Our Vision

Soaring Eagle Academy is a safe and nurturing environment where each student and family, teacher and therapist, and other professionals from the community have the opportunity to work together to honor the abilities of the child. Together we respect, embrace and empower students as we guide, learn and teach. Students are cared for physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally while engaged in meaningful learning

Statement of Core Values

Soaring Eagle Academy believes that students with Autism and related disorders have great potential for interacting, communicating, thinking and learning.

  • A student’s regulation skills are the key to success.
  • A student’s regulation is the foundation for the capacity to develop relationships, attend, comprehend, actively learn and intentionally communicate with peers and adults in his/her environment.
  • A curriculum rich in experience, with developmentally appropriate concepts and meaningful information, provides the foundations for regulation and increased learning.
  • Students learn best when they are well-regulated, able to share attention with their communicative partner and emotionally invested in the learning.
  • A student’s understanding and comprehension of information being presented is critical for regulation and learning.
  • A student’s relationship with his caregivers, teachers and peers are the primary vehicle for affecting development and learning.
  • A student’s environment is “engineered” in order for experience to provide salient opportunities to learn what is relevant to the student’s intentions, ideas and comprehension of language.
  • A comprehensive team of dedicated professionals, supported with intensive initial and ongoing training, is essential for a successful social and academic program for all students.
  • Family involvement is a central component of our program, where parents/caregivers are respected as active partners in their child’s education through observation, training, classroom visits and coaching, to support parent child interaction and understanding of their child’s strengths and challenges and to bridge the home and school environment.

Our learning environment reflects the unique interests of each child by integrating their thoughts and ideas into the educational curriculum to nurture their joy for learning.

  • Student’s need for emotional support is recognized and supported for maximum learning.
  • Spontaneous, developmentally appropriate interactions are facilitated throughout the day.
  • Student-directed learning is supported and expanded by the school staff.
  • Learning experiences support sensory/motor, auditory and visual-spatial skill development.
  • Semi-structured problem solving experiences are facilitated and supported in both academic and social situations.
  • Assistive technology tools are embedded within the learning environment to facilitate communicative and academic success.

Our school philosophy and methodology reflect a Developmental Language Model implementing principles of the Developmental Individual-Difference Relationship (DIR®) based approach, by which students move through developmental levels for relating, communicating, thinking and learning. Student’s educational goals incorporate the student’s developmental levels, individual learning/sensory profile and Illinois Learning Standards.

  • Students develop and practice the ability to regulate and share attention, which is needed as the foundation of relationships and learning.
  • Students develop and practice engagement and trust, which are needed for building relationships and learning.
  • Students develop and practice two-way purposeful verbal and gestural communication, which is needed for relationships, problem solving and learning.
  • Students develop and practice communicating and problem solving to create a continuous flow of interaction, which is needed for relationships and learning.
  • Students develop and practice the ability to functionally use ideas to create and expand learning and relationships.
  • Students develop and practice building bridges in order to connect ideas and learn logically. This facilitates problem solving, imagination, learning and relationships.

Our school staff is a comprehensive team of professionals working together to facilitate and support student learning.

  • Our staff is a dedicated, caring and compassionate group of individuals who appreciate and respect each child’s challenges and accomplishments.
  • Teacher to student ratio is closely monitored to maximize each student’s learning.

Each student’s team consists of a special education teacher, one to one teacher assistant, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, social worker/counselor and DIR® specialist, based on their IEP and the Academy’s assessment/therapeutic plan. Fine Arts (music, art) and P.E. are part of a student’s therapeutic plan. The program director and DIR® expert clinicians work collaboratively to oversee the educational and social program for each student in accordance with the Academy’s philosophy of integrating developmental language model and DIR® principles.

Parents are respected as active partners in their child’s education through observation, training, support and classroom visits.

  • Parents become knowledgeable in the methodology utilized in our school.
  • Parents develop a strong understanding of developmental model and the importance of developing a foundation of social-emotional capacities for genuine learning.
  • Parents are empowered by learning advocacy skills for successful participation in their child’s educational plan.
  • Parents are given opportunities for continued training and coaching in the methodology implemented in our school.
  • Parents are encouraged to be involved in scheduled weekly classroom activities.
  • Parents are given opportunities to learn about community resources through the school.

Our program serves as a model school implementing the integration of Developmental Language Models and DIR® principles in a social and academic environment.

  • Our program serves as a training site for SEA parents while offering observations and theoretical insights to interested professionals and school districts who searching for knowledge in Developmental Language Models and DIR® principles.
  • Our program provides a comprehensive curriculum framework, integrating contemporary Developmental Language Models and DIR® practices aligned with Common Core Standards. SEA hopes to publish its curriculum so that our unique thinking can be shared with others.
  • Our program is always working to gather information regarding our implementation and results of educational interventions, based on developmental language models implementing DIR® principles, for student outcomes and research purposes.