Jen School provides specialized academic, therapeutic and vocational opportunities for adolescents experiencing intellectual, emotional, and/or behavioral challenges that can potentially limit their life success. Students are served in uniquely designed classrooms to maximize effectiveness across the continuum of age and disability type. The Jen School is fully approved by the Illinois State Board of Education.
Social Emotional Learning
Integrated into the core curriculum at Jen School is the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. Social workers/counselors are key members of the classroom instructional team working with students to utilize coping strategies, manage emotions and complete assignments. The team recognizes that stress of deficits in math or reading can lead to emotional crisis. Students are taught how to manage these frustrations whether working on math or in stressful family/life situations. Learning is not only about the academics, it is about life.
High School and Junior High
Students grades 6-12 receive academic instruction with like-age students in self-contained classrooms. Classrooms are staffed with a Special Education Teacher, Instructional Assistant and Social Worker/Counselor. The Jen School curriculum is aligned with Illinois Learning Standards and meets public school district graduation requirements.
At the Jen School, we place as much emphasis on how students learn as we do on what they learn. We recognize that not every student learns the same way and that the traditional system of teaching and learning may not be ideal for some students. We aim to maximize every student’s potential for success through the integration of academics, vocational preparation and social emotional development.
Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment Program (FIE)
Developed in the 1950’s by Professor Reuven Feuerstein, the Feuerstein’s Instrumental Enrichment program (FIE) has been successfully used as a tool for the enhancement of learning potential.
FIE utilizes a classroom curriculum designed to enhance the cognitive functions necessary for learning and achievement. The fundamental assumption of FIE is that intelligence is dynamic and modifiable, not static or fixed. The program seeks to:
- Correct deficiencies in fundamental thinking skills
- Provide students with the concepts, skills, strategies, operations and
- techniques necessary to function as independent learners
- Diagnose and help students learn how to learn
Overall, FIE does not teach a student “what” to think but “how” to think. It provides a language students can use to express themselves. Daily Acknowledgement forms enable faculty and students to evaluate behavior, thought processes, decision-making and communication skills. Through the use of FIE, students gain language and knowledge about their cognitive processes that help them make better decisions, in the classroom, in their out-of-school life and in their futures.
The Jen School student centered motto of “it’s all about you” can be seen on display every day in every classroom throughout the school, but perhaps none so dramatic as in the Adventure and/or Experiential Education activities. As a proponent of the “the more you do, the more you are” school of thought, Jen School students are provided the opportunity to participate in a wide range of hands-on experiences. From high-ropes courses, team initiative courses, team building and problem solving activities to fishing, boating, and even milk-crate climbing to the ceiling in our own gym, students are sequentially challenged to test their physical and emotional limits in a safe, trust- building environment. Post activity, staff led processing sessions are then conducted to help students reflect on their role in the activities and examine where and how much growth has occurred. These types of activities and experiences have provided a fun, safe way for students to find out new things about themselves, and the values of teamwork and cooperation. The lessons learned can be seen long after the activity is completed.
Integrated Vocational and Educational Skills Training
The INVEST mission is to provide structured and supported employment opportunities through an experiential learning process emphasizing the inherent reciprocity within academic study and job skills training. Work experience, along with a stipend, is provided in various employment areas, and career-centered instruction is delivered within a classroom setting or on the job, depending on the needs of the student.
As the mission states, there are two main components to the INVEST program at the Jen School. One is a supervised work experience, and the other is a credited course. Students participating in the INVEST program report to work at the end of the school day. There they follow the Step-by-Step training program to develop their vocational skills. The Step-by-Step program covers five major areas: appropriate work behavior, business-like image and relationships, communication, how business works, and work environment. The students are responsible for several jobs on and off campus including but not limited to, janitorial work, kitchen and cafeteria detail, vending machine maintenance, gardening, furniture/bike repair, and metal recycling.
Chicago Area Alternative Education League
Jen School has been a proud member of CAAEL since the school’s inception. CAAEL, a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, has been providing a full spectrum of academic, athletic and art programs to the Chicagoland area’s most at-risk youth since 1976. CAAEL participants attend over 55 alternative schools from 85 public school districts spanning 9 Illinois counties. The customized leagues and events which take place during the school day help our students develop compassion and tolerance, work as a team, and accept the consequences of their choices. CAAEL truly is a celebration of what at-risk kids are capable of as it improves school attendance, increases compliance with school rules and enhances academic performance. To learn more about CAAEL, please visit CAAEL.org.
Fully, over 80% of Jen students participate in CAAEL activities throughout the school year including flag football, volleyball, basketball, softball, bowling, chess, spelling bees, academic bowls, and art competitions. CAAEL’s mission to provide opportunities valuing good sportsmanship and fair play is a true positive alternative for Jen School students and complements perfectly the Jen philosophy of respectful reciprocity. Jen School students shine in CAAEL participation, receiving multiple CAAEL Spirit Awards, emblematic of exemplary sportsmanship throughout each athletic season. CAAEL participation has shown to be an integral part of the school lives of Jen School students, as they strive to achieve eligibility for each week’s game.