The Lincoln Center’s Leadership Academy is a Pennsylvania Licensed Private Academic School (LPAS) designed to support the personal and academic growth of each student. The Leadership Academy runs on a ten-month schedule and is designed to work with young people in grades seven through twelve who are experiencing difficulty in traditional school settings and/or who require extra support in behavioral, social, and or mental health areas. Our students range in their social or emotional challenges and may cope with mental health disorders, PTSD, mood disorders, high levels of anxiety, school phobia, and or substance abuse issues. The Leadership Academy’s academic curriculum adheres to the Pennsylvania Department of Education State Standards while also differentiating the curriculum for enhanced student engagement. Students exercise freedom in choosing projects, readings, and basic classwork to complete. Academic work is accented by expanding student knowledge with experiential learning such as special events and field trips that highlight overall themes and units and provide cultural experiences while still in a supportive therapeutic environment.
The Lincoln Center operates under our philosophy of Transformational Education®, a variety of interactive learning practices that embodies a student-centered, relationship-building process wherein teachers and counselors guide students in developing life skills and effective work ethics in a supportive environment. Teachers design engaging content implemented into an experiential learning environment and allow students freedom in pacing themselves in the classroom. Project-Based Learning is an important aspect of The Lincoln Center’s Transformation Education® model. PBL is a student-centered approach in which students learn about a subject by working in groups to solve a real-world problem. The identified problem, a situation that resembles something students will encounter in their future, drives motivation and active learning. Lessons are experiential and hands-on.
Character Development and Soft Skills
Project-Based Learning provides students with opportunities to develop team-building skills, manage projects and hold leadership roles, practice oral and written communication skills, achieve self-awareness and evaluation of group processes, perform self-directed learning, conduct and understand research, apply course content to real-world examples, and rehearse critical thinking and analysis, all with increased motivation to commit time to school work and better their education. Many of these learned attributes are defined as soft skills, which greatly improve performance in society and in the workplace, so we focus on projects and activities that revolve around leadership, communication, and business. Research shows that social skills are as important, if not more important, than intelligence; therefore, we provide a workplace-informed curriculum featuring professional development skills, experiential learning opportunities such as educational field trips and community service activities, project-based learning, and even opportunities to participate in co-ops with local businesses. Our Habitudes program further encourages leadership development and cooperative learning by employing values-based Habitudes lessons that use real-life images and narratives to engage students in a creative way. Habitudes aids teachers in speaking the students’ language and creates a more positive environment where everyone can more easily relate to each other.
With our unique approach to education, we seek to motivate students’ self-discipline, build self-esteem, develop character, and foster creative energy and logical reasoning skills. Our curriculum is designed to appeal to diverse learning styles, and because of our low teacher to student ratio of one to seven, we can better engage our students and individualize instruction based on their academic levels. Additionally, The Leadership Academy is a licensed provider for Special Education in Pennsylvania and these services exist as a key component for some of our students, which is facilitated through our special education coordinator. We have incorporated a specialized resource room and certified staff that work with special education students. We also subscribe to a multi-sensory and open classroom approach, incorporating a fundamental principle of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) along with a similar principle from the Pennsylvania Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP): the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The open classroom model reinforces the importance we place on creative thinking and our efforts to create an accepting atmosphere.
The Leadership Academy has two mental health programs. In our Standard Program, students participate in one group counseling session per day that is integrated into their academic schedules. In our Plus Program, students receive two clinical therapy groups per day as well as a minimum of 30 minutes of individual therapy per week along with their academic courses. We provide in-house counselors for our students and also utilize tele-psychiatry for psychiatric support including full psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and crisis assessments. Our distinctive focus on both academics and mental health afford us the ability to address the needs of nontraditional learners who need extra support in regard to mental health and or substance abuse.
What Makes Us Unique
Most public schools, and even some alternative education programs, provide barren classrooms, emphasizing traditional teaching methods with limited student choice and high, externally imposed, behavioral consequences. Contrastingly, mental health support programs place maximum emphasis on treating just mental health issues with a minimum focus on academics. Students in hospitalization or mental health rehabilitation facilities tend to fall behind in school because they receive minimal educational support while in such programs. The Lincoln Center fills a need that would otherwise go unattended to. Students develop academically, emotionally, and socially through the integration of the Transformational Education® methodology, mental health and wellness supports, staff expertise, the creative learning environment, and a student empowerment approach. The goal of the Leadership Academy program is to successfully return the students to their home school with a renewed sense of their ability to learn, an expanded toolset of coping skills needed to deal with difficult situations, and the capacity to apply pro-social values in their relationships. However, some students may continue their education at the Leadership Academy for an extended period of time based on their needs, and the Leadership Academy has the ability to award PA-recognized diplomas.