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What Makes AEF Schools Different?

What makes AEF Schools Different?

What makes AEF Schools Different?

The population we serve

AEF is NOT a special needs program.  Instead, we cater to students who have specific needs.  These needs fall into the category of remediation and strengthening in cognitive and executive functioning skills including focus, attention, time management, independent work, decision-making, conflict resolution, making/keeping friends, coping with change, dealing with anxiety, compromising, following multi-step instructions, auditory processing, visual memory, sequencing, part-whole relationships, study skills, test taking skills, and more.

Many of our students do NOT have a diagnosis or IEP.  They simply function better in a smaller, more nurturing, and structured environment which provides a quiet and safe classroom experience.

What makes AEF Schools Different?   We are NOT a behavioral program and do NOT work with students who are aggressive, a danger to themselves or others, emotionally disturbed, mentally handicapped, or who have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.  AEF sends a request for background information to every applicant’s prior school.  This combined with an in-person interview assures we are selecting the appropriate candidates for our programs.

AEF is a smaller, more structured school environment.

  • Lower Campus (Grades K-7) Max Enrollment 100 students
  • Upper Campus (Grades 8-12) Max Enrollment 85 students
  • Academy Campus (Grades 5-12) Max Enrollment 40 students
  • AEF Summer Program (Ages 5 – 18) Max Enrollment 60 Campers
  • Student to staff ration is 8:1
  • Average Class size is 15


What makes AEF Schools Different? Our Daily Schedule.

After each academic period our students are given a 20-to-25-minute break.  This gives them a chance to socialize, have something to eat, go outside, walk around, or take a moment in their own way to reset and get ready for the next academic period.  These breaks teach our students to focus for set increments of time and allow the learning process to be effective throughout the entire day and not just in the morning.

What makes AEF Schools Different?  We are effectively a No Homework Policy School *     **

Many of our new students do NOT have the ability to complete homework independently.  Instead, homework becomes a tutoring session for mom, dad, grandmother, or in some cases an actual tutor.  Homework should not be a tutoring session but rather reinforce time management, independence, organization, and build academic confidence.  It usually takes 3 to 6 months for us to build these skills to a point where a student is ready for homework.  Once they are, we will send home a maximum of 10 to 15 minutes of homework a night.  The homework may not be on grade level and is NOT designed to teach new concepts.  It is specifically designed to address and strengthen the skills above.

  • *HS students complete their homework at school and only bring home the work they have not completed
  • **Parents may request homework or additional homework


What makes AEF Schools Different?  We do NOT use standardized testing for promotion and do not require the FSA *    **

AEF does administer a national standardized test each year.  This is required both for accreditation purposes and to teach our students how to take tests and reduce test taking anxiety.  The results of the testing are also used to improve our focus of instruction and to measure the progress our students are making year to year (but NOT used for promotion).

  • *Parents may request that their child does take the FSA and AEF is authorized to administer it.
  • ** Students in grades 9 to 12 may elect to take the PSAT, ACT, or SAT.


Social Skills, Manners, & Respect

At AEF Schools, staff play a crucial role in modeling and teaching social skills to students. This is integrated into daily interactions and the overall school environment to ensure students develop strong social competencies. Here’s how the staff at AEF Schools model social skills:

Daily Interactions:

  • Greetings: Staff greet each student warmly every morning, setting a positive tone for the day. They teach students to respond appropriately with “fine, thank you, how are you?” or another suitable response.
  • End-of-Day Farewells: At the end of the day, staff ensure students practice proper farewells like “have a nice day,” reinforcing polite and respectful communication.

Conflict Resolution:

  • Modeling Appropriate Responses: Staff demonstrate how to handle conflicts calmly and respectfully. They guide students through resolving disputes, showing them how to express their feelings and listen to others.
  • Mediation: In situations where conflicts arise, staff act as mediators, helping students navigate the process of conflict resolution. This teaches students the importance of empathy, negotiation, and compromise.

Social Interactions:

  • Group Activities: During group activities, staff model cooperation and teamwork. They show students how to take turns, share resources, and work collaboratively towards common goals.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Staff use positive reinforcement to encourage and acknowledge good social behavior. They praise students for demonstrating kindness, patience, and cooperation.


  • Social Scenarios: Staff use role-playing exercises to demonstrate appropriate social behaviors in various scenarios. This helps students practice and understand how to act in different social situations.
  • Feedback: After role-playing, staff provide constructive feedback, highlighting what was done well and what could be improved. This helps students refine their social skills.

Modeling Everyday Etiquette:

  • Manners: Staff consistently use good manners in their interactions, such as saying “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me.” This sets a standard for students to follow.
  • Respectful Communication: Staff demonstrate respectful communication by using appropriate language and tone, even in challenging situations. This teaches students the importance of respectful dialogue.

Encouraging Self-Advocacy:

  • Problem-Solving: Staff encourage students to solve their problems at school by speaking to their teachers, someone in the Get a Grip (GAG) room, or an administrator. This promotes independence and self-advocacy.
  • Chain of Command: Students are taught to follow a chain of command when seeking help, ensuring they use the appropriate channels and learn to persist until they get satisfaction.

Modeling Emotional Regulation:

  • Calm Responses: Staff model calm and controlled responses to stress or frustration, demonstrating effective emotional regulation techniques.
  • Mindfulness and Coping Strategies: Staff teach and model mindfulness and coping strategies, helping students learn how to manage their emotions effectively.

Community Building:

  • Inclusive Environment: Staff work to create an inclusive environment where every student feels valued and included. They model behaviors that foster a sense of community and belonging.
  • Encouraging Diversity: By respecting and celebrating diversity, staff show students how to appreciate differences and build inclusive relationships.


Through these methods, AEF staff ensure that students not only learn academic content but also develop essential social skills that will serve them throughout their lives. This comprehensive approach to social skills education helps students build positive relationships, handle conflicts constructively, and navigate social situations with confidence and respect.