Empowering Every Student: The Impact of the LSASS Program on All TCS Students

By Michelle Toma-Harrold
Director of Learning Strategies and Academic Support Services (LSASS)

Since the Learning Strategies and Academic Support Services program expanded in 2021, our team has provided literacy, math, executive functioning, speech-language and occupational therapy support or enrichment to nearly 65 TCS students through our fee-based program.

Even students not enrolled in our fee-based program receive the benefits of the expanded LSASS team. The LSASS mission is to ensure that every child receives the support they need to thrive academically and foster a culture of inclusivity and collaboration that benefits every student. Our team of dedicated LSASS specialists and teachers are shaping a learning environment where every child can thrive.

One of the primary ways in which LSASS extends its reach to all students is through universal screenings. Currently, our specialists conduct screenings in kindergarten and first grade, with plans to expand to other grades soon. These screenings cover a range of areas, from speech and language to reading to fine motor skills. By identifying potential needs early on, we can provide timely interventions that benefit not just the individual student but the entire classroom dynamic.

When it comes to speech and language, for instance, our specialist assesses various aspects of development, including listening comprehension and following directions. Similarly, our occupational therapist evaluates fine motor skills and spatial relationships, which are crucial for tasks like handwriting. These foundational skills are integral to a child’s academic journey, impacting everything from reading to classroom participation.

LSASS specialists also work closely with classroom teachers, offering consultation and support in differentiation strategies. Whether a student requires enrichment or struggles with certain concepts, we collaborate with teachers to tailor instruction to individual needs. This collaboration extends beyond occasional meetings; it’s an ongoing dialogue aimed at enhancing the learning experience for every child.

Our initiatives aren’t limited to individual interventions; they often have ripple effects across classrooms. For instance, strategies recommended for specific students can benefit the entire class, leading to improved overall functioning and engagement. For example, LSASS specialists take a lead role in spearheading initiatives like the Upper School planners Executive Functioning Coach Cristian Eden developed or the visualizing and verbalizing techniques Speech-Language Pathologist Andi Kaufman worked with eighth grader teacher to incorporate into his lessons to strengthen students’ reading comprehension skills before they enter high school next year. 

One common misconception about LSASS is that it’s exclusively for students with formal diagnoses. While some students may have diagnosed needs, our approach is inclusive, serving all students based on their academic progress and classroom assessments. By adopting this inclusive model, we can provide nimble support without the delay of formal diagnosis processes.

Looking ahead, LSASS is committed to expanding our offerings to meet evolving student needs. From enhancing summer camp programs to parent education initiatives, we’re constantly looking for ways to enrich the educational experience for every TCS student and family. Whether it’s supporting students who need enrichment or offering resources for parents, our goal remains the same: to empower every student to reach their full potential.