From the Director

The Joshua School (TJS) mission is committed to helping individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities attain the highest quality of life, valuing each unique mind, body, and spirit. 

 

And while this remains the direction of all that we do every day, we rely upon each other in many different ways to get this done. Life at The Joshua School is about connections. Students are supported by 1:1 relationships with their teachers and therapists. Families find connections to TJS staff, other families, and resources to help navigate life on the autism spectrum. TJS’ goal in fostering these connections is always greater support, independence, more choice, and self-sufficiency and a better life for both a student and his/her family. 


Connections within our TJS community shifted in 2020. At the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, we transitioned to remote learning. The pandemic also forced cancellation of our spring fundraising gala, Standing Strong – Transforming Lives. Our students have finally returned to safer models of hybrid and in-person learning. And the TJS community responded generously to our Standing Stronger appeal in 2020, which enabled us to cover gala losses. 


Needless to say, another theme of 2020-21 was flexibility. This is not a new concept at TJS. Through 1:1 relationships, we meet students where they are each day. 


Establishing a sustainable and effective model 
TJS has earned the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) Model Autism Site award for the last four years in a row by being flexible, providing superior programming, and meeting the individual needs of students. When the pandemic hit, we transformed our educational model from in-person to remote learning in one short week. Every day the same instructor, a familiar person and friend, led each student’s daily activities remotely. We also found safe ways to continue some trips into the community with masks, as well as vocational experiences for older students. 


Ensuring an appropriate physical environment
Our student population is growing, and all three TJS campuses are at capacity. With more physical space, we could serve more students and have a greater impact. Safety protocols and social distancing requirements have also made the need for space even more acute. As we move forward we will be enhancing our physical environment by the beginning of the 2021-2022 year.


Building and retaining a highly effective staff
During remote learning, and as we have moved back to in-person classes, TJS has continued to recruit and train staff. All staff benefits, paid time off, and professional development opportunities have been maintained at pre-COVID levels. Weekly staff meetings continued via Zoom and are now back in-person to support staff and collectively discuss issues that arise. 


Creating strong governance with organizational oversight
As remote learning needs differed at each of TJS’ three campuses, teacher and administrative staff leaders concentrated on solving problems and removing barriers to allow our highly trained staff to do their jobs in a challenging environment. Program directors worked with individual staff members to keep in touch with each student and his/her family. And in addition, TJS’ administrative team kept in close touch with school districts, local health departments and the CDE Office of Facility Schools.


You will read in the following pages about how rates of autism continue to rise in Colorado. Services to support families and children are not keeping pace. The pandemic has also introduced new barriers like funding uncertainty and difficulty in obtaining in-person services. Finally, there is a pressing need in Colorado to broaden support for children and adults from all walks of life who are living with autism and other developmental disabilities.


October 5, 2020 marked the 15th anniversary of TJS’ founding. Whether you are a new friend or old, we thank you for your interest and support of our school, especially during the past year. Taking inspiration from our students, we continue to move forward, just in a different way. Thank you for being part of the journey.

Ed Nichols

Executive Director

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