Academic Support Services
The West Catholic Department of Academic Support Services promotes the success, dignity and independence of exceptional learners by supporting their unique needs, encouraging self-advocacy and increasing academic skills while giving them equal access to the learning environment.
Additional Education Opportunities
While many educational opportunities are offered at West Catholic High School, we understand that some students require an even greater diversity in learning experiences in order to be successful and develop their gifts. Due to this need, the Support Services staff at West Catholic works with qualifying students and their families to open up even more educational opportunities. We offer classroom accommodations and curriculum modifications to welcome a wide spectrum of learning abilities.
These services provide many benefits to our students, but they also may have implications regarding college requirements and expectations. All students must work with Support Services staff and their School Counselor to consider their post-secondary goals and carefully select an appropriate path to graduation. Students and families are asked to meet with Support Services and their School Counselor to receive more detailed information and to determine if utilizing a given opportunity is an appropriate option.
Any student who needs curriculum modifications as deemed appropriate by current diagnostic data because of a disability is granted this level of support to access our curriculum. Modifications are provided to students who have moderate to severe disabilities. Students who receive modifications may be seeking a diploma or certificate of completion depending on their needs.
West Catholic general education teachers and support services teachers partner alongside students and families to provide appropriate modifications to maximize student learning and provide access to our rigorous curriculum. Students who receive curriculum modifications and are seeking a diploma, must meet all graduation requirements as outlined by the state of Michigan. All course modifications are noted on a student’s transcript.
Certificate of Completion
West Catholic High School strives to provide an inclusive Catholic education to those with moderate cognitive disabilities and significant learning disabilities. West Catholic Support Services offers a Certificate of Completion to these learners who require a personalized curriculum in order to have the opportunity to engage in the West Catholic High School experience.
Candidates that will receive the West Catholic High School Certificate of Completion upon graduation must have a current Individualized Education Plan which will continue to be monitored by Support Services staff and Grand Rapids Public Schools, a current diagnostic evaluation, and must have the ability to follow behavior expectations, maintain self-care independently, initiate written and verbal expression, and participate in classroom activities without the use of an aide. If you would like further information and / or feel as if a Certificate of Completion may be appropriate for your child, please contact Emily Hoffman at [email protected].
West Catholic juniors and seniors who enjoy helping others learn, have a heart for classmates who learn differently, or have an interest in working in education after high school are encouraged to apply to be a sidekick.
As a sidekick, students serve as a peer tutor to a student who receives support services through curriculum modifications or is seeking a West Catholic Certificate of Completion. Sidekicks act as academic role models, working to create positive study skills. Sidekicks must display the skills of responsibility, collaboration, leadership, and empathy.
Interested students must fill out an application and have an interview with the Director of Academic Support. This is a credit/no credit elective that will require students to complete a reflective assignment each quarter.
How would my child’s teachers know about his/her needs?
Your child’s teachers will be invited to any team meeting with support services to update and renew any accommodations on his/her learning plan. Teachers have access to your child’s accommodations through Infinite Campus. Support Services teachers meet with teachers 1:1 at the beginning of each school year to discuss their exceptional learners.
How are West Catholic’s Support Services programs structured?
The Department of Academic Support guides families through the process of receiving additional support services through classroom accommodations and interventions and when appropriate, curriculum modifications. The Support Services team assists families when they request initial evaluations, and if already established, renew their child’s Student Accommodation Agreement. An Accommodation Agreement is a document which identifies a student’s strengths and weaknesses to address their unique learning needs. These needs are derived from current data in the form of a diagnosed educational disability, mental health condition, and/or medical diagnosis. West Catholic students with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) are monitored by a team of Special Education professionals from Grand Rapids Public Schools.
Emily Hoffman is the Director of the Support Services Department. Emily oversees all support services and programs, takes lead on communication with our Special Education team from Grand Rapids Public Schools, manages student Accommodation Agreements, teaches in the Academic Support Center and provides instructional coaching to teaching staff. Melissa Henkel is the lead teacher in our Academic Support Center and manages student Accommodation Agreements. Both Emily and Melissa have degrees in Special Education. Sandra Golembiewski and Fran Zainea are part-time (3 days per week) and teach in the Academic Support Center. Both Sandy and Fran have taught at West Catholic for over 30 years.
Do you have any families who have had a child with exceptionalities go through West that would be open to talking with me?
Yes! I can share your contact information and you will hear from a family soon.
What services does West Catholic currently provide to exceptional learners?
Student Accommodation Agreements (Section 504 Plans)
Non-Public Service Plans (through collaboration with GRPS)
Intervention services when needs arise with students that do not have an official diagnosis or previously written learning plan.
Academic Support Center – Academic Support Center (ASC) provides a unique opportunity for students to receive individualized assistance and instruction in their areas of established need. ASC is also a place for students to receive their specific accommodations and work on reaching their goals and objectives. In ASC, students become independent learners as well as self advocates for their education. Students realize their uniqueness in learning habits and discover how to be successful as individual learners. ASC addresses student’s needs by offering a small, structured classroom. Students enrolled in ASC receive direct assistance on homework and classwork assignments, essay writing, note taking, organization, time management, study skills, and test taking strategies.
Multiple paths to graduation – West Catholic Diploma (with or without needed curriculum modifications) ; West Catholic Certificate of Completion
Collaboration with general education teaching staff
Peer to peer sidekick program
Consistent communication with families
Assistance in transition from 8th grade to high school and high school to post-graduation placement
How does West Catholic communicate with families about their student’s progress?
All families at West Catholic are informed of their student’s progress. Parents have access to Canvas, Infinite Campus, and are sent weekly reports of failing/missing assignments. The Support Services team will meet with you at minimum once a year to update your child’s learning plan to accommodate their current strengths and needs. Support teachers monitor your child’s progress in their classes weekly and will communicate with you and teachers regarding concerning grades.
Who is involved in making educational decisions for my child?
Our students, parents, teachers, and Support Staff work as a team to provide our students with the resources needed to reach their goals and learning potential. Together, we equip our students with the ability to embrace challenges and work diligently towards success. Students take an active role in creating and updating Accommodation Agreements.
What accommodations and modifications does West Catholic provide?
Accommodations (NOT an exclusive list) that may be appropriate:
Note taking assistance – copies of notes, note taking guides, graphic organizers, copies of study guides sent home, etc.
Use of graphic organizers / outlines to assist in writing assignments
Chunking of large assignments into smaller parts
Providing scaffolded due dates to long-term projects and assignments
Allow for a scribe for short answer / essay questions on assessments
Student can write on test, not required to use scantron methods
Extended time on assignments when appropriate
Shortened assignments when appropriate
Grade for content only on short answers / essays not on written mechanics
Allow for sensory / movement breaks
Testing in a small group / in Academic Support Center
Extended time on assessments
Assessments read aloud
Notify student of “pop” quizzes or any changes in routine (scheduled sub, practice drills, etc.)
Assign specific roles / expectations on group work
Frequent check-ins during instruction and assessments
Modifications are made to curriculum and class schedules when appropriate based on student’s needs and as determined by Support Services and the School Counseling Department. Decisions are aligned with the student’s post-graduation plans and goals. West Catholic does offer a Certificate of Completion to qualifying students.
What services can West Catholic provide to my student that the public school can’t?
West Catholic educates the mind, body and soul. Inspired by Catholic Social Teaching, we believe that each student deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. We invite each student, with his or her unique God given strengths and challenges to seek excellence. We assist all students by focusing on their strengths to provide individualized support and promote self advocacy. Students are surrounded by the love of Christ and given countless opportunities to grow in their faith and strengthen their relationship with God.
Director of Academic Support
Special Education Co-Teacher
Academic Support Teacher
Tom & Michele Reens
WE ARE THRILLED WITH THE SUPPORT SERVICES
We are thrilled with the support services that the Academic Support Department has provided our daughter Jill. The staff has developed successful modifications and accommodations so that Jill is able to maximize her learning to her greatest abilities. Due to the tremendous support that Jill receives, we have seen her self-esteem and self-worth flourish. We are extremely grateful for the entire Academic Support Department at West Catholic.
THE PROGRAM'S IMPACT ON OUR FACULTY AND STUDENTS IS IMMEASURABLE
Academic Support has challenged us as a staff to open our minds and hearts to ensure we are able to provide an excellent, Catholic education to all who desire it. The ASC teachers & staff and the program’s impact on our faculty and students is immeasurable.