SOAR: Academic Success Accessible for All Learners

Baptist Prep believes students with learning differences and difficulties are a part of God's plan and should be afforded the full opportunity of a Christian Education. This is why the Baptist Prep SOAR program was launched.

“All students learn differently. Through SOAR, we give our students the opportunity to achieve success, gain confidence, and look toward the future,” shared Tricia Smith (LPCET, CDT), Baptist Prep SOAR Director. “Our desire is to provide an atmosphere for students enrolled in the SOAR Programs that is conducive to a successful learning experience. I hear over and over how SOAR has helped families get their lives back.”

Through SOAR, early testing and intervention allow students with learning differences to achieve academic success.

“Even in college, my interest was to help students who were struggling with the ability to see success, both socially and academically,” continued Tricia. “The desire to assist students and families as they work to find success has become a driving force for me. To see a student achieve in areas he or she never thought possible is life-changing.”

The SOAR program serves students at Baptist Prep through two unique approaches geared at helping students achieve in the classroom.

“The Learning Lab is similar to a resource room,” continued Tricia. “We provide services beginning in 2nd grade. The Learning Lab curriculum includes all language, spelling, reading, and math. The instruction is aligned with that of the regular classroom, at a more modified pace. This ensures the student continues to build on skills needed in these core areas.”

Learning Lab is designed to assist students in the least restrictive environment to provide them with a successful learning experience. Because each child has unique strengths and weaknesses, students are placed according to their potential.

“The second part of SOAR is Discovery Educational Therapy which was developed by the National Institute for Learning Development (NILD),” shared Tricia. “This mediated learning experience allows students to meet with a licensed therapist who utilizes a variety of techniques designed to address underlying causes of learning difficulties, rather than simply treating the symptoms. Discovery is true therapy. It is an intense, individualized intervention. Students become confident, competent, and independent learners, gaining mastery in both cognitive and perceptual areas of weakness.”

The International Dyslexia Association has endorsed the NILD Educational Therapy for students with dyslexia. Baptist Prep’s Discovery Program is grateful to have certified dyslexia therapists on staff.

“For the past 29 years, I have been a part of our SOAR Department,” continued Tricia. “When I came to Baptist Prep, I had been in education for over twenty years. I remember the day in 1993 when Mrs. Lana Foot, the SOAR Director at that time, came to me and told me she wanted me to pray about something. That prayer was to pursue my NILD credentials. For me, it was truly an answer to prayer. My goal out of college had been to pursue further education in speech therapy. NILD Educational Therapy opened the door to do more.”

The success of the SOAR program at Baptist Prep is evidenced in the students. Over 95% of graduating SOAR students go on to attend college as they excel in a variety of areas including medical, educational, engineering, and more. Students have received ACT scores in the 30s and have been offered multiple scholarships.

“I think the success of students moving through the SOAR program speaks volumes for the commitment of both our SOAR staff and the students enrolled,” shared Tricia. “One of the most heartwarming success stories from our students was from a young lady who went through both the Learning Lab and Discovery. I remember sitting with both her and her mother, and her mother telling me they knew their daughter would not go to college. Never say never because today that young lady is excelling as an elementary teacher! Over the years through SOAR, I have been blessed to come alongside families to help them find the assistance they have been looking for.”