• Beach Day at Center School

    Beach Day at Center School is a student and staff favorite!

  • Playing in our swimming pool builds muscles and confidence

    Playing in our swimming pool builds muscles and confidence

Each student can succeed with the proper supports

The Center School provides the full range of educational and therapeutic support services to meet each student's special needs.


Founded in 1997, School Based Services (SBS) was founded to meet public school district requests for in-district support of low incident special needs students rather than placing those students in out-of-district placements. This collaboration served dual purposes: allowing students to be educated in an effective environment in their home school district and at a fraction of the cost of placing them in out-of-district settings. In the face of a higher percentage of highly disruptive students and students not prepared to face standard testing, School Based Services (SBS) original focus evolved to include alternative education students.

With narrow funding corridors and dwindling resources, SBS offers school systems targeted, affordable support services to focus on educating the general education student population with minimal disruption. SBS offers immense value to public school systems by supporting these alternative students with specialized professional staff, higher staff to student ratio, collaborative problem solving, and high-interest learning topics. Most importantly, these services occur within the existing school structure with continuous connection to the students’ immediate community.

SBS believes a school team must create and reinforce civility, pro-social skills and ultimately a safe, “trauma-informed” learning environment. SBS services enhance behavioral stabilization to encourage educational competence and advancement along annual yearly progress. Rich academic instruction informs and re-directs the majority of students’ disruptive behavior. SBS administrators maintain the awareness that when student behavior exceeds acceptable norms or endangers others, a student may need to separate from the school system. Working collaboratively with public school administrators on discipline policy and procedures, SBS staff advocates for interventions and teaching around maladaptive behaviors either in the classroom, after school or with internal suspension or other discipline steps. SBS efforts result in more classroom time for the academic curriculum and other educational endeavors.

Currently, SBS collaborations represent a wide range of supports to public school districts in a variety of settings, directed by the district’s needs. The host public school works with the SBS Core Team to survey needs, understand data tracking mechanisms and identify desired outcomes. Services vary by design to accommodate the unique needs of differing public school systems. SBS interventions are intensive and can include behavior management services, case management, clinical support, transportation and teaming to assist with school culture change. The challenges all school systems face are serious. The successful improvement or revitalization of these academic institutions requires collaboration with all stakeholders. SBS meets administrators, teachers, support services, parents and students on their level. By scaffolding skills, SBS creates supports with as the next challenge emerges for the school system. As schools improve, the sense of shared accomplishment strengthens entire communities.

Existing SBS programs spanning urban, rural and suburban school districts:

School Transformation assistance:

In many school transformation plans, disruptive behavior is identified as a priority area. SBS provides behavioral management services and has had an instrumental impact in changing the dynamics of the school, creating a culture of civility and providing a trauma-informed calm learning environment.

K – 12 Learning Centers:

Collaborative public/private partnerships providing intensive day school services within the public school district’s alternative education programs. Students are typically two to four years behind grade level with poor to refusal levels on state mandated testing. Case managers provide linkages to community services; staff ratio is calculated to meet the needs of population, and clinical staff leads anger management, social skill groups and can provide adjustment counseling. Students are picked up by SBS if late for school or absent without valid excuse.

Emotional/Behavioral Programs:

K – 12 structured behavioral intervention supports in public school classrooms with population exposed to urban violence and/or domestic upheavals due to family structure changes. Allows important paced literacy and mathematics curriculum to proceed with fewer learning gaps. Collaborative problem solving and mediation – based intervention supports to students and school staff has significantly reduced the rate of suspensions, arrests, critical incidents and hospitalizations while raising the attendance rates and performance levels of students.

Vocational Opportunities In Community Enterprises:

Supplemental curriculum to alternative education that surveys students with high absentee rates on their vocational aspirations then creates a program based on those aspirations. Curriculum covers personal presentation, what skills are needed to reach expectations, community exploration of educational and vocational resources.

School Based Services
School Based Services provides cost-effective educational options within public school districts for special needs students, at-risk students, and schools involved in changing their school culture. Call Chris Duff at (413)427-2063 to discuss a customized program for your school district.
Center School (Holyoke, MA)
Center School in Holyoke, MA, provides a safe learning environment and highly-trained educators and therapists for students with significant needs. Call Chris Duff at (413)427-2063 today to schedule a tour.
Project-13, INC,  is a 501c3 educational nonprofit working to end the school dropout crisis and to prepare students for success in college.