A Step Up Academy

A Step Up Academy Logo

Basic Information

Address: 520 Meetinghouse Road Jenkintown, PA 19046
County: Montgomery
Phone Number: 2158851075

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Additional Information

President: Jamie Jenkins
School Type: Special Education
Founded: 2013
Ages/Grades: Pre-school - 8th Grade
School Size: 40 Students
Student/Teacher Ratio: 1:1 or 3:1
Summer School: Yes
Admissions Requirements:

For admission inquiries, please fill out the tour request form on our website: https://www.astepupacademy.org/contact

Mission Statement:

A Step Up Academy prepares students to become engaged participants in society by developing innovative academic, social, emotional, and behavioral programming as well as impactful community partnerships.

Philosophy/Belief Statement:

A main goal of A Step Up Academy (ASUA) is to prepare our students for the community and to prepare the community for our students. ASUA students have regular access to inclusion, including community-based learning opportunities, to generalize the skills they learn in the classroom and practice the social aspects of activities that often are a struggle for students with autism. Accessing the community on a regular basis with the support of ASUA staff allows for more meaningful and memorable learning opportunities and builds future independence for our students. Experiential, community-based, and inclusive learning are key aspects to our student programming. When added to the strengths of our academic classroom experience, students have unique opportunities to grow in new ways.

ASUA's highly specialized programming, which is designed to promote skill development and independence through carefully crafted individualized education programs, provides many short term and long term benefits to the community. This includes early, targeted, and evolving programs that prepare our students for community involvement in the areas of employment, education, and independent living. Additionally, while ASUA is supporting opportunities for our students to be active and participating members of their community, we are also supporting awareness, acceptance, and recognition of the value our students bring to other educational bodies, places of business, and other community establishments. Both internal and external community stakeholders benefit from ASUA programming.

School History:

A Step Up Academy (ASUA) is a private, non-profit, co-educational, and non-sectarian school for children with autism. We serve students from Preschool through 8th grade. ASUA was established and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in August of 2013.

Notes/School Information:

A Step Up Academy (ASUA) is a private, non-profit, co-educational, and non-sectarian school for children with autism. We serve students from Preschool through 8th grade. ASUA was established and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in August of 2013.

ASUA's focus is to serve the growing population of young children and adolescents on the autism spectrum that have significant developmental delays, speech and language difficulties, and behaviors that are associated with the diagnosis. Using evidence-based practices with a strong focus on targeting the fundamental areas of communication, ASUA works with students, their families, school districts, and communities to teach the skills necessary to allow children to be in the least-restrictive setting with the highest level of inclusion possible.

ASUA provides support to a student base with a diverse set of needs. In the development of maximally beneficial learning environments for this diverse population, we have developed a dual band program. This program allows the time, space, and flexibility to meet each child where they are, learn their strengths, and develop programming that builds upon these strengths to reach success. We have created the two bands (i.e. classrooms) based on levels of support. The Teal Band offers small class sizes (maximum of 6 students) with a 1:1 student-to-staff classroom ratio. Students in this class require consistent staff support throughout the school day to assist with attention to tasks, elopement, safety, ongoing toileting issues, medical issues, etc. The Grey Band offers a class structure that promotes individual and small group learning with a small class size. Students in this classroom do not require 1:1 support. This classroom will have a maximum of 8 students with a maximum of three staff members.

All student programming, in both bands, includes academic support, behavioral support, social engagement support and opportunities, as well as highly specialized related services which can include speech, occupational, physical, dance and movement, and music therapy as well as vision support and orientation & mobility. Each related service provider works as an active participant in the educational and behavioral program of each student and, in addition to the direct teaching of therapeutic skills, they work to generalize skills across settings through direct service delivery and staff/parent consultation. For example, an OT can incorporate writing, self-help that includes certain life skills such as teeth brushing and applying deodorant in their goals for a student. While speech incorporates social engagement, sounds, expressive language, social and cognitive communication, voice, fluency, and feeding or swallowing.

ASUA is a unique educational model in that creating and facilitating inclusion opportunities is central to our mission and programming. Inclusion opportunities are varied at ASUA and highly individualized for each student's individual learning path. All students have the opportunity to experience and participate in inclusion programming. Options can include reverse inclusion, can involve visiting or attending other partner programs with ASUA support, or can also be provided as a stand-alone service in another academic setting. Our partners include Abington Friends School, Germantown Academy, Crefeld School, Regina Coeli Academy, and Center School.

In the past year, ASUA has grown from grades Kindergarten to 6th grade to Preschool to 8th grade. ASUA is continuing to grow our program to support students entering adolescence. In 2019, ASUA was fortunate to receive grant funding to build a Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES) lab to help support transition planning. The PAES system includes skill practice, exploration, and teaching, which connects to community-based instruction and employment opportunities. Students who successfully complete PAES assessments know where their strengths are, have developed work-related problem-solving skills, and understand what careers may interest them. This gives them a jump start on being competitive in the real world.