Triton Academy is a highly specialized, research-based school environment designed to address the needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Using a comprehensive trans-disciplinary planning and service delivery approach, the program specifically addresses the language, communication, behavioral, sensory, and social needs that are often associated with ASD. As a learning community, we believe that professional expertise, supported by collaboration between teachers, specialists, paraprofessionals, administration, and parents; and professional development, leads to a safe learning environment and positive student outcomes. Our work with students prioritizes the development of self-regulation and self-management skills in order to advance perspective taking, learning, and relationship skills leading to independence.
VCOE, in collaboration with the VC SELPA, operates ten special education classrooms for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder at Triton Academy. Additional facilities for student use include: motor room, library, cafeteria, life skills room, four low-sensory calming rooms, social skills classrooms, and indoor and outdoor physical education facilities. We share a campus with University Charter Middle School (UCMS). Students are referred to Triton Academy by their local school district when the district does not have a sufficiently intensive and restrictive setting to meet the student’s needs.
All classrooms are structured to include multiple grade levels including upper elementary, middle school, and high school levels (3rd through 12th grade) in three strands: functional skills (students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities), modified academic track (students with significant learning disabilities associated with their Autism who are functioning several years below grade level) and grade level diploma track (students who are able to access grade level content or above with accommodations to meet their unique learning needs). Approximately one third of our students have co-existing mental health needs, which are supported through additional resources provided by Ventura County Behavioral Health through Intensive Social Emotional Services (ISES) and Collaborative Educational Services (CoEdS) provided through Aspiranet.
Classrooms are designed to be small and intensive. There are limited opportunities for interaction with typical peers. Classrooms have one certificated teacher and a minimum of two specially trained para-professionals to serve eight students. All staff receives specialized training and annual refreshers in the evidence-based practices used in the program on an on-going basis. In addition, two speech therapists, school nurse, an Occupational Therapist, School Psychologist, Social Emotional Specialist, two Behaviorists, WorkAbility specialist, Office Manager, Assistant Principal, and Principal support instructional staff in meeting the varied needs of students and families through direct services, specialized instruction, and regularly scheduled collaboration.
All classrooms at Triton Academy implement evidence-based educational interventions designed to meet the unique learning needs of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. These include five signature practices: technology, social skills instruction, sensory support (Motor Room), Applied Behavior Analysis, and visual structure. Opportunities to generalize skills taught in the program occur through Autism Ambassadors, (students from UCMS), weekly Community Based Instruction, and for high school students who evidence readiness: WorkAbility and participation in classes through the Career Education Center operated by VCOE.
As a National Demonstration Site for Positive Behavior Support and CHAMPS, we commit to engaging with staff and students following these principles. We structure activities on and off campus by providing clear expectations regarding “expected behaviors” following CHAMPS.
Triton Academy endeavors to provide a safe, caring, and educationally challenging environment for all students. Staff implements best educational practices, supported by scientific data, to address the unique learning needs of all students assuring that each student learns. We communicate with parents and care providers to enhance the home learning environment and offer leadership in the community to increase our students’ life opportunities and generalize skills learned within the school setting.