Esther B. Clark School

School Description:  The Esther B. Clark School is a Certified Non-Public School, located in Palo Alto, California, that serves students with emotional disabilities.  Up to 12 students in each classroom participate in a 6 ½ hour day that addresses primarily therapeutic and behavioral issues in individualized and small group formats. Their average length of stay is 18 – 36 months.  Referrals to Esther B. Clark are made primarily by school districts and County Mental Health Offices in the Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Mid-Alameda Counties.  Direct parental referrals may be considered but are not preferred.  A team of four professionals staffs each classroom: a Special Education Teacher, a Therapist, a Behavioral Specialist and a Teaching Assistant.  Integrated treatment protocols are formulated to address each student’s identified behavioral, socio-emotional and academic issues.

The Therapist is an experienced mental health professional who serves as primary therapist for the student and family during the student’s tenure at the school.  The therapists work with our students and their families in school-based treatment to help alleviate potential sources of anxiety and hardship and strengthen the students’ self-esteem and family relationships where necessary. The therapist provides individual/group/family therapy, as well as overall therapeutic case management and coordination of care with other community service systems and agencies.

The classroom Behavioral Specialist maintains and supports the classroom behavior management system, and trains the family to evaluate, document, and support the system, as well.  By formulating and directly implementing each student’s behavioral IEP goals and objectives and providing direct instruction in social skills, the Behavioral Specialist teaches behaviors that eventually replace the student’s maladaptive and less social behaviors.

A Special Education Teacher and a Teaching Assistant help each student build essential academic skills and develop compensatory strategies when needed to ensure access to the core curriculum.  All curriculum presented is aligned with the California State Standards.  Students are given the opportunity to participate in the State Testing And Reporting (STAR testing), and the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) held in the spring of each year.  Additionally, students over the age of 14 may earn high school credits in all subject areas.

Art and Music programs are part of each student’s weekly class schedule and serve to further help children access personal strengths to deal with their issues of concern.  The goal at the Esther B. Clark School is to facilitate each student’s acquisition of productive compensatory learning strategies, positive self-esteem and appropriate emotional coping and behavioral self-monitoring so that he or she can successfully return to a less restrictive educational setting in the home school district in a one to three year time frame.  Parents participate in the therapeutic process and attend educational information workshops.

The ultimate goal for every student is a smooth transition to a less restrictive environment.  The transition process is a highly individualized one that involves the student, the family, the receiving site, and the staff of EBC.  As our staff recognizes that a comprehensive high school setting is the best eventual placement for our students, we begin the transition of all students by the end of their sophomore year.

Students Served:  EBC serves students from the 4th through 10th grades.  The Primary Disabling Conditions of our students include Emotional Disturbance, with Certification for Other Health Impaired and Autism (mild; Asperger Syndrome only) pending.

Services Provided:  Enrollment at EBC assumes not only a state-standards based academic program, but also behavioral intervention and School-Based Mental Health  Services (Chapter 26.5).  Art and Music Therapy, Computer Lab, and Modified General Physical Education are also a regularly scheduled part of our students’ weekly schedules.  Occupational and Speech and Language Therapies are also provided, as designated on our students’ IEPs.

Contact Information:  To learn more about our program, please contact Elizabeth Guare at 650.688.3634, and she will refer your call to the appropriate staff member.  We can also be reached via e-mail at