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Omaha Magazine

Boys Town’s Learning Academy

Nov 05, 2014 08:00AM ● By Kristin E. Bieber, Ph.D.
At this point in the year, after students have returned from summer break and have readjusted to the routine of school, some students may continue to struggle to keep up academically with their peers. Despite extra practice at home and individualized attention at school, some students require more time and attention before their abilities catch up with their potential. The Boys Town Learning Academy, run by Boys Town’s Center for Behavioral Health, uses research-supported strategies to help students catch up and realize their full potential.

The Learning Academy has two components: academic skills training (AST) and content area tutoring (CAT). Skills training is for students who need to improve foundational skills such as reading and math facts, and tutoring focuses on helping students in more advanced and specific subject areas.

Academic Skills Training

AST can help students develop skills in:
  • Reading: knowing letter sounds, recognizing letters, reading with few errors, and understanding what is read.
  • Writing: getting ideas on paper and using proper capitalization, punctuation, and grammar.
  • Math: identifying numbers, counting, and understanding math facts.
  • Spelling: spelling common words and memorizing word lists for tests.
Often when students struggle with basic skills, the curriculum keeps moving while they fall further behind, causing confusion and frustration for families. To catch students up, clients who visit the Learning Academy are assigned a trained interventionist who is supervised by a licensed psychologist with a doctorate in School Psychology.

Licensed psychologists develop an individualized plan that is monitored to promote student progress. In addition, the skills training program includes:

  • One-hour, individual sessions (frequency of sessions is determined based on the student’s needs).
  • Frequent parent meetings to share progress.
  • Training of parents, tutors, and teachers to carry out treatment and maintain progress over time.

Content Area Tutoring

The second component of the Learning Academy, tutoring, focuses on older students with subject-specific challenges in English, math, science, and social studies.

Before students begin attending tutoring sessions, they meet with a licensed psychologist who evaluates their strengths and needs to develop an individualized plan. Then each student is assigned a high school or college student who tutors them for one hour twice a week.

Sending your child to tutoring at the Learning Academy isn’t just going to improve grades for one class. Students will also receive training in specific skills to improve organization, note-taking, and prioritizing work and assignments for long-term projects. Learning Academy psychologists and tutors want students to walk away with an increased understanding of the subject they once struggled with, and the skills needed to be successful with challenging courses in the future.

Is the Learning Academy for You?

One of the unique things about the Learning Academy is that it is developed and supervised by licensed psychologists. As psychologists, they apply their training in research-supported academic and behavioral interventions to improve specific skills and to teach parents effective ways to support student learning and motivation. Both the Academic Skills Training and the Content Area Tutoring programs are goal-oriented, meaning Boys Town’s psychologists supervise and evaluate student progress on a regular basis. The Learning Academy provides an avenue for licensed psychologist to share some of the strategies that they know about with families in-need.

The Learning Academy is a service open to all students in Omaha and the surrounding areas. If you think your student would benefit from individualized academic attention, check out the Learning Academy page on the Boys Town Pediatrics website, under the Counseling Services tab.


Kristin E. Bieber, Ph.D.


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