Overview of Academics

Catching up on studying in dorm room

Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Shortridge Academy offers an educational environment for grades 9-12 that is both challenging and nurturing. Shortridge teachers understand the necessity of building relationships with teenagers who need to change negative cognitive and behavioral patterns. Our goal in the classroom is to help students develop and strengthen metacognitive skills so that they understand who they are as learners and can advocate for themselves based on that understanding. Once students own this identity, a natural next step is to develop the intrinsic motivation that will lead to success in college and the workplace. Our curriculum emphasizes depth over breadth and choice in subject matter. Assignments focus on higher-order thinking skills that build sound intellectual habits: critical thinking, reading and writing, synthesis and analysis of information, problem solving, inferential thinking, innovation, and creativity. In addition, students work on enhancing foundational skills in math, reading, written and oral communication, and research. Our average class size ranges from 6 to 10 students, which allows for one-on-one interaction with teachers as well as peer collaboration.

Academic Support

By design, all students receive a high level of academic support at Shortridge—classes are small, the community is tight knit, and students interact with teachers in a variety of ways outside the classroom. Teachers supervise clubs, study halls, and off-campus trips. Further, the academic and therapeutic programs are intertwined. The classroom plays an essential role in the healing process as students work through the reasons they were not successful students prior to Shortridge, while their therapeutic work helps to build a foundation for academic success through the development of self-confidence and optimism for the future. Our team approach makes this collaboration explicit. Upon enrollment, students are assigned to both a therapist and an academic advisor (who is also a teacher). Students meet with their academic advisor most days; this time serves as a “check in”, where students receive on-going support in processing their academic and therapeutic goals, organizational help, and help with out-of-class work. Advisors work closely with therapists, meeting at least once per week to discuss their caseload. Advisors also attend team group therapy once each week. Both therapists and advisors communicate regularly with parents and teachers regarding the academic progress of their students.

Above: Academic Director Anne Downey discusses the educational environment at Shortridge Academy.

Our academic schedule allows for six blocks, and students generally take classes during five of the six blocks. Classes meet for 50 minutes, four times per week. Their sixth block is a flex block that is proctored by a teacher. Students might meet with their therapists during this flex block or do out-of-class work. If a student is falling behind in their academic work, they might be assigned a mandatory study hall, or be put on a Performance Improvement Plan.

For students who need more structured academic support, we have the Center for Learning and Cognitive Enhancement (the “LC”), which is run by our LC Director. Students work with the LC team to improve executive skills, create weekly to-do lists, and manage academic goals. In addition to these sessions, students may be recommended for our LC workshops. These workshops break down how to implement a variety of study strategies and create positive study habits. Based on a student’s individual needs, they may be recommended to participate in executive functioning coaching in the LC up to three times a week. Their time in the LC is considered an additional class, and students earn up to a full credit for their work. Participation in the LC is graded on a pass/fail basis.