Students With High-Functioning Autism

Autistic students have unique educational needs. Authors David Campos and Kathleen McConnell Fad explain high-​functioning autism (HFA) and how to support autistic students so they can develop executive functioning skills. To ensure school leaders and schools successfully serve students with HFA, they suggest educators follow these six steps:

  1. Determine needs.
  2. Examine the environment.
  3. Create visual reminders.
  4. Explain, model, and provide opportunities for practice.
  5. Provide feedback, correction, and positive reinforcement.
  6. Assess and reteach as needed.

A Culture Worth Sharing

In the spirit of “tell your story or someone else will,” Caleb Smith, principal of Newton High School in Newton, KS, shares why he has come to view social media as a friend rather than a thorn in his side. Smith explains how school leaders can use social media to control the narrative and create a positive school climate and culture. He also suggests ways that school leaders can show their appreciation for teachers, staff, students, and community partners.

Students as Decision Makers

Authors Katie Barr and Brandy Arnold explain how, by including students in the decision-​making process, school leaders can not only strengthen their school’s culture but also validate students and foster leadership within the student body. School leaders can engage students as decision makers by:

  • Prioritizing relationships with students
  • Helping students see themselves as leaders
  • Consulting with students to envision change
  • Evaluating and redesigning systems to center student voices

Success for All

Melissa Barlow, the principal of Yukon High School in Yukon, OK, shares how her school has used smaller teams of educators to transform their school—one of the state’s largest high schools—into a place where small groups support students not only academically but socially and emotionally. Students are assigned to teams of administrators and counselors to create a sense of community and better connect students and families to the school. Throughout the year, teachers also categorize their relationships with their students according to three distinct tiers. “The priority goal is for 100% of our students to have at least one teacher, at any tier level, connect to them by the end of the school year,” Barlow says. Besides describing the criteria for each tier, she explains how ensuring such connections can help to remove barriers and ensure success for all students.