In 2011, Trinity Classical Academy launched The Imago Dei School (Latin for “image of God”), a unique kindergarten through twelfth grade program for students with learning and developmental disabilities that provides a supportive environment in which students can develop intellectual, academic, spiritual, social, emotional, and vocational skills. The faculty strives to assist each student to successfully access the rich variety of learning opportunities provided to them, as well as specific therapies and extracurricular activities.
The Imago Dei student benefits from academic instruction in a small setting with a low student-to-teacher ratio in specially designed classes, average of 3:1, and they are also fully integrated into the vibrant Trinity mainstream student culture for their social and spiritual goals. The Imago Dei students are enthusiastically included in all on-campus sports, electives, extracurricular activities and events.
In grammar school, Imago Dei students participate in many academic classes and activities alongside their grade-level peers such as history, science, music, art, physical education, field trips, recess, lunch and other social activities. They are also fully integrated into the Trinity Athletics sports program, which offers skills clinics for grades TK-3 and interscholastic competition for grades 4-6, where they play co-ed soccer, flag-football and basketball side-by-side their grade-level peers.
In junior high and high school, Imago Dei students are mainstreamed where appropriate and where they thrive alongside their general education peers. The Imago Dei curriculum includes Bible, composition, science, literature, math, world history and geography. They also participate in individualized interventions with trained Educational Therapists that strengthen the underlying causes of their learning disabilities, which can raise the expectations of their performance, rather than treating the symptoms. Group Education Therapy sessions, which focus on four key components: cognition, perception, academics and emotions, include a variety of techniques designed to improve the student’s overall ability to think, reason and process information. These techniques emphasize basic skill areas such as reading, writing, spelling, and grammar with reasoning skills within each area.
Upper School Imago Dei students are also fully integrated into the general education extracurricular activities like Trinity Athletics varsity football, JV and varsity basketball, cheer, cross country, JV and varsity volleyball, softball, swim and soccer. They also actively participate in Trinity’s Fine Arts program which includes orchestra, band, and vocal ensembles, as well as performing in Trinity’s Rhetoric Theatre productions, most recently “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: The Comedy of the Bard!” and “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
The Imago Dei School is committed to providing an environment which helps develop students academically as well as socially. To help maneuver the often challenging navigation of social situations, academic and community integration, Trinity Classical Academy developed the Noble Knights and Peer Mentors programs to provide Imago Dei students with support, friendship and guidance from other students at their grade-level, as opposed to the traditional aide or adult behaviorist.
The Noble Knights program is designed to offer Trinity sixth grade students the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, sacrificial service and kindness to the younger Imago Dei students in a structured environment. The Noble Knights are given tools to assist students on ways to successfully build relationships and model behaviors that are important to maintaining rewarding relationships at school and beyond. By meeting regularly, the Noble Knights help with the development of social communication skills and social thinking, giving the Imago Dei students the confidence, and sometimes trusted wingman, so they can comfortably participate in the thriving student culture.
In the Upper School, Imago Dei students are paired with a Peer Mentor, a program similar to the Noble Knights, though are given more independence on campus for prosocial behaviors and guided social integration. These trusted friends build self-confidence, help with intrapersonal communication and create a sense of connectedness at school. With the help of their Peer Mentor, Imago Dei students have successfully performed in the school’s theater productions and musical concerts, scored touchdowns in varsity football games and scored the final points in 2104’s CIF Basketball Championship game!
By all measures the Imago Dei School has been a tremendous success. These students are thriving, learning, growing and enjoying school. They are loved and encouraged by all of our Trinity students who see them as peers and friends. These students are treasured not only by their teachers, but the whole student body.