In this program, students with autism are taught through systematic strategies and are consistently reinforced for displaying desired behaviors. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most commonly used evidence-based approach for teaching students with autism. Using Applied Behavioral Analysis in the classroom allows the teachers to plan and implement individualized programs that meet each student's unique needs in a structured and consistent manner. A vital part of this program is the collection of daily data to measure the progression of skill development and to equip staff with the information they need to make judgments regarding programs. Social skills instruction is incorporated into all classes in the program and is applied during community-based instruction. Instruction in the community provides a real-world opportunity to assist in the generalization of skills learned in the classrooms. Staff members engage in strategic planning for transition to more inclusive settings. The social skills curriculum focuses on the development of social skills including play, conversation, understanding nuances, body language, and various sensitive topics.
Multiple Disabilities Program
The Multiple Disabilities Program provides instruction leading to a successful transition from school to adult life. The curriculum addresses functional academics, the acquisition of life skills, and workplace readiness skills. Students learn how to operate as independently as possible in school, home, and community settings.
Individualized instruction supports different learning styles. Social skills groups address issues of adolescence and decision-making. Through Community-Based Instruction (CBI), students are provided real-world experiences to assist in the generalization of skills learned in the classroom and school setting.
Emotional Regulation Impairment Program
The Emotional Regulation Impairment Program provides support for academic progress while enabling students to obtain strategies to improve social and emotional skills. Students are able to access a wide variety of services including participation in individual and small group counseling, social decision-making, and anger management groups. Crisis intervention team members and behavioral assistants provide support and assistance to staff and students. School-wide behavior support systems ensure that Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) are implemented through all school and community settings.
Severe Intellectual Disability Program
The Severe Intellectual Disability Program provides intense therapies and classroom support for students with the most severe medical, cognitive, and physical needs. A collaborative approach is used with classroom staff and therapists working together to provide a stimulating and supportive environment for those students with significant developmental delays. The goal is to keep the students actively engaged throughout the school day using a wide array of sensory experiences and integrated techniques and strategies.
Career Readiness Programs
A variety of career readiness opportunities are available to students based on interest and ability level. These programs allow students to sample different careers while developing job skills that can lead to future employment and community involvement. MHS students develop functional skills which will assist them as they prepare for graduation and entry into a supported employment environment or the competitive job market.
Buildings and Grounds Work Program
The Buildings and Grounds Program provides MHS students the experiences of custodial maintenance and buildings/grounds maintenance. Students learn the daily routine, planning, and scheduling required in order to provide indoor and outdoor maintenance at all MCSSSD schools on campus.. Work experiences include the proper maintenance of tools and machinery, furniture moving, repair and assembly, and any task a custodial/maintenance person may perform.
Computers and Graphic Arts
The Computers and Graphic Arts Program gives an introduction to various software applications and tech devices. Students work with projects and applications that help them to develop skills related to word processing, creating spreadsheets and databases,creating presentations, and creating projects using graphic art design. Students may learn about desktop publishing, basic programming, and multimedia design. Students are also involved in creating the school newspaper, publishing the annual yearbook, and producing films and video projects.
Food Services Program
The Food Services Program functions as a fully operational industrial-grade kitchen. Students in this program learn about the safe handling of food and OSHA kitchen safety regulations, how to operate and clean commercial-grade kitchen equipment, and how to make meals for large and small groups. Students also learn the practicalities of leftovers and the logistics of high-volume food production in which they plan and prepare buffets, sit down meals, and fast food service. The students also prepare and provide refreshments for our Board of Education meetings and special district events throughout the school year.
Mercer Design Shop
The Mercer Design Program allows MHS students to visualize, design, and produce multiple apparel and gift items using Cricut design programs and technology. Students in the Mercer Design program create original imprinting designs and also produce orders submitted by the Mercer County Special Services community and the community-at-large. This is a program that gives students the ability to artistically create clothing items and also provides them with the experience of operating a school-based business.
Office Skills and Career Center Program
The Office Skills and Career Center Program is designed to help MHS students develop an awareness of multiple professions and career choices that require skills in computer basics and keyboarding, word processing, clerical skills, business communications, and day-to-day office procedures.
During the course of the year, students perform simulated office tasks in a business environment. They have opportunities to provide clerical assistance to the various offices throughout the district as well as finishing “live work” projects. They will also have the opportunity to participate in a variety of “pop-up” business opportunities that arise on-campus, which afford lessons in logistics, supply-and-demand, inventory, and pricing. In addition to computer training, students also receive instruction on using a variety of other business machines such as copiers, shredders, scanners, book binders and laminating machines.
Retail Marketing Program
Mercer High School’s Retail Marketing Program runs a fully operational convenience store called Chuck’s Place. Students that work in Chuck’s Place learn everything there is to know about managing a traditional retail food environment such as interacting with the public and learning social skills as they wait on customers., learning to stock shelves, preparing and delivering meals, and Operating a cash register.
MHS Transition Department
The MHS Transition Department is a full-service resource center for MHS students and families. The Transition Department provides guidance, resources, and support for all MHS students. At its core, the department assists families of 18-21 year old students as they prepare for matriculation from high school. The Transition Department facilitates student SLE (structured learning experiences), provides job sampling experiences in the community with job coach support, assists families with identifying adult programs in the local community, assists with job applications and post-secondary school applications and interviews, and helps students and families with any questions or concerns that they may have in regard to transitioning students.
L.A.C.E.S. (Life and Career Education Services) Curriculum
Mercer High School’s L.A.C.E.S. program and curriculum serves students ages 18-21 and incorporates a hierarchy of vocational and life skills activities for students to reach their fullest potential. There are three phases of the program in which students can either advance to various phases or remain in the phase that best serves their individual needs. The L.A.C.E.S. program and curriculum utilizes a universal assessment bank and data collection program to enable all MHS staff to evaluate what phase the student is on and the goals toward which the student is working.
Be You Boutique
This is a class for 18-21 year old students at Mercer High School that markets, stocks and manages a traditional thrift store at Mercer High School. This class continually works on the skills of customer service, business marketing, supply chain management and apparel design.
Mercer High Friends Food Pantry
This is a class for 18-21 year old students at Mercer High School that coordinates, stocks, organizes, and facilitates a school-based food pantry that benefits the Mercer County community-at-large. The Mercer High Friends Food Pantry has established a sophisticated food distribution system that collects nourishing meals and snacks on a weekly basis, and then successfully distributes this food to over 300 families in the Mercer County Special Services School District community.
This is a class for 18-21 year old students who create and manufacture crafting and gift items that correspond with annual holidays and school events. The students in this class then organize the sale of these items to the Mercer County Special Services School District community at multiple events throughout the school year.
Mercer High School Activities and Events
Community-based Instruction (CBI) - A wide array of community-based instruction and career exploration trips are planned throughout the year allowing students to be exposed to a variety of jobs and real-life situations. Each trip is planned with our students in mind and may be an exposure to an everyday situation such as placing an order in a fast food restaurant, making a purchase at a local store, or visiting a local area of interest. Other trips are matched to our vocational programs and allow MHS students to see skills they are learning in school put to work in a real job.
Several times a year, MHS students are given the opportunity to participate in special events such as evening dances, or movie nights at the high school.
Students have the opportunity to participate in a number of interscholastic sports activities including cheerleading, soccer, basketball, and softball. Games and practices are held during the school day. Cheerleaders train and cheer for our basketball team at all home games.
Several times a year students are able to share their original poetry with their schoolmates in a structured setting. Students may have the option to submit their selected pieces for potential publication in the Creative Community Anthology of Teenage Poets.
The prom is held off-campus at Mercer Oaks Country Club toward the end of the school year. It is a time for our students to dress up and feel special as they remember the events and activities of the previous school year. Prom attire is donated and distributed to those students needing assistance in obtaining the perfect outfit.
Students may participate in a number of Special Olympics sporting events outside of the school day. Soccer and cycling are offered during September and October. Track and field is offered in March and April. All teams practice at night and play games on the weekends. Some Special Olympians participate in the NJ State competition held at the beginning of June at The College of New Jersey.
School-wide and classroom representatives meet on a weekly basis to discuss upcoming events and assign students to assist with all activities. It is a place where students can share ideas for new and unique activities and events. Some past and present events include; school dances, carnation sale, candy sale and fundraisers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and American Cancer Society.
Dolphin Dollar Store
The Dolphin Dollar Store is coordinated by the MHS Occupational Therapy department and operated in conjunction with our school-wide PBIS behavior incentive program. Students are rewarded for adhering to our school rules by earning points throughout the day. They are then given the opportunity to shop in our school store and “purchase” items with their points. The store is organized and managed by MHS students. Students take inventory, shop at local dollar stores and grocery stores for merchandise, stock the shelves, and wait on the student customers.
Students enrolled in our Art elective have the opportunity to create an assortment of projects using a variety of media. Creating pottery crafts is a way for our students to express themselves.. Students also have numerous personal works of art prominently displayed throughout the school.
The L.A.C.E.S. classroom exposes 18-21 year old students to the roles and responsibilities of independent living. The L.A.C.E.S. classroom provides students with the opportunities to learn and apply skills related to wellness and nutrition, snack and meal choices, simple food preparation, household and personal safety, clothing choices, self care, consumer knowledge, and community resources.
Library Media Center
Many classes visit the 5,000-volume school library each week to check out books, do research, have library skill lessons, and listen to age appropriate books. . In addition, the media center hosts two book fairs each year, in which students can use their PBIS behavior points to purchase a book. The library also serves as an art gallery to showcase student work.
Students enrolled in music classes have many opportunities to demonstrate their creative potential. MHS students are able to participate in school-wide events such as holiday shows and talent showsMHS also has a chorus, tech choir and drumline. and produces a yearly, Broadway-style musical production.
A certified Reading Specialist collaborates with staff and provides small group instruction. Students enrolled in the Reading Program have been identified by staff and assessed using various instruments such as, Informal Reading Inventories, The Wilson Assessment for Decoding and Encoding, and The Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests. The reading teacher uses programs such as The Wilson Reading System and Caught Reading for instruction. Students meet in small groups at least three times a week. Teachers work closely to monitor the progress to provide the best program for the students.
Spanish language instruction is offered at MHS. By the end of Spanish 1, students will demonstrate novice to mid-level comprehension of the Spanish language. Students will be able to comprehend and follow simple, oral directions, commands and requests. Students will be able to exchange information using words, phrases and short sentences, during leave takings, greetings, and daily interactions. Students will demonstrate an understanding of Spanish culture, foods, geography, famous landmarks, and holidays.