ESD 112 has launched a new therapeutic learning program in Clark and Cowlitz counties to support middle- and high school-aged youth who are struggling with mental health issues and, as a result, participation in school.
The new program is known as Spero – a name derived from the Latin word meaning “hope.” With centers in Vancouver and Longview, Spero’s unique combination of academic and mental health supports provide a safe, small, therapeutic educational setting for young people experiencing anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, or other mental health challenges.
“Navigating the traditional public school setting can be extremely difficult for students with social-emotional or mental health issues, and all too often they end up avoiding school altogether,” explained Spero Director Sara Hatch. “Our program allows these students to comfortably return to a group learning environment, receive personalized support from our team of care providers, and work toward an eventual return to their school of origin.”
Students who attend Spero are qualified for and served via an individualized education program (IEP) and recommended for placement by their school district’s IEP team. Students who present as physically aggressive, significantly disruptive, or otherwise deemed to have unsafe behavior towards others are not candidates for enrollment due to the therapeutic nature of Spero’s full-day programming, which includes on-site treatment activities as well as individual, group and family counseling (as needed).
To protect the health and safety of those in the program from COVID-19, Spero utilizes a staggered schedule with small group in-person learning. Additionally, participants remain together in specific classroom cohorts with appropriate PPE and physical distancing.
Students and families interested in Spero enrollment should contact their school district’s IEP team. To learn more, visit the Spero website.