As passionate as we are about educating our students, the truth is this: We want to have them with us only temporarily. Each day, students are shrouded with the support and resources needed to prepare them for reintegration into their neighborhood “home” schools.

Reintegration is something many parents eagerly anticipate, holding strong faith that their children can graduate from a traditional public school environment.  At the same time, their children may approach reintegration with excitement, anxiety or fear – their emotions can run high because, after all, they often are returning to the very schools where they faced tough educational or emotional challenges.

With this in mind, Therapeutic Day School places a high priority on supporting the child, the family, the teachers and the home school staff during the reintegration process. It is a process that begins with assurances that the student is ready to return to his or her school, with support from parents and teachers and the Reintegration Team at Therapeutic Day School.

Students often return to their home school on a part-time basis, spending half of their day there, and half at Therapeutic Day School where they can continue to be supported by special education teachers, social workers and other service providers.  This practice gives the Reintegration Team a way to maintain close contact with the student, while also being the student’s bridge to new teachers, who need to learn about the students’ learning style.

Students also attend weekly support group meetings, where they can receive therapeutic support as they plan to reintegrate, or already are reintegrating to their home school. In these meetings, they can share common strategies with their peers, like how to handle questions from students curious about their “two-school status.”

Every step along the way, the Reintegration Team wants a smooth transition for the student. However, there are times when the road gets bumpy: When there are problems, the Reintegration Team brings together the student, his social worker and parent(s) to discover solutions. Most often, this extra support resolves the problem; when it does not, a student’s reintegration might be postponed until everyone feels the student is ready to try again.

Therapeutic Day School’s Reintegration Program is under the direction of Tom Albrecht, who joined JCFS in 2005.  He is a veteran special education teacher who retired from Evanston’s public school system after 28 years of service. He holds a Master of Arts degree in education.