11 minute read

The Learning Center

A partnership of Chattanooga Christian School and Siskin Children’s Institute

Chattanooga Christian School (CCS) and Siskin Children’s Institute (SCI) have partnered to open The Learning Center. The Learning Center provides a truly individualized, comprehensive, educational program for students who have more significant needs and who are not equipped for full-day, general education programs. The Learning Center serves those who are in the 6th grade and up and is located in the heart of the CCS campus.

We are all unique individuals. Different methods and strategies are required when working toward our best selves. This is true for all of us and even more so for this specific population. Through constant assessment and a low student-to-staff ratio, CCS creates an individualized educational program for each of our students. We also encourage our students to recognize, practice, and pursue God-given gifts and talents–discovering ways to thrive within and contribute to their communities.

Making life easier is our goal. The Learning Center aims to combine the services needed to provide families with a comprehensive program–all in one convenient spot. In partnering with SCI and the Center for Developmental Pediatrics, we are now able to do just that. CCS brings strong academics, continuous care, and ample social opportunities to the table while SCI offers consultation and integrated therapy services.

At Chattanooga Christian School, we celebrate all people as image-bearers of God and recognize the importance of representation within a community. We are excited to see our borders broaden and to offer a new education option to families who have older students with more significant needs.

The partnership allows us to provide the highest quality of care for students in an inclusive setting within a thriving community. This meets a great need in Chattanooga, and we are very excited to be partnering with Siskin Children’s Institute on such an innovative model for student services.
Shonda Caines Director of Exceptional Education & Head of Lower School at CCS
We are excited to collaborate with Chattanooga Christian School to provide greater access to a continuum of care for whole families.
Derek Bullard President of Siskin Children’s Institute
A 3,900+ square foot state-of-the-art learning facility, located in the heart of the CCS campus


Often, those with disabilities are placed in classes with such a mix of students that it is difficult to recognize and therefore address individual students’ needs. We provide a tailor-made approach to educating your student, offering a more effective model than the self-contained classroom. Here’s how it’s done.


Our ratio, approximately 3 to 1, is in place to ensure that each student is engaged as an individual. This enables our staff to identify and implement meaningful, inclusive opportunities, to customize schedules, and to provide the best learning strategies for each student.


Constantly assessing each student as an individual is key to creating optimal learning experiences–both inside and outside the classroom. Our staff is able and eager to customize community involvement and to implement job training opportunities that are specific to each student’s interests, as well as abilities. This individual attention gives students the confidence and tools they need to become engaged in their communities both while they are with us and–more importantly–once they have graduated.


Using the best curricula for educating students with a range of learning abilities, we expect many students to continue to follow a standard sequence of academic instruction for middle and high school with modifications when necessary. Students also focus on the more functional aspects of learning such as using money, calculating the time needed to complete tasks, designing a budget, and reading for work and daily life.

Some students take standard middle and high school courses, while other students follow an alternate curriculum across academic disciplines. Planning with multidisciplinary teams with significant input from the student and the family allows us to create tailored academic programs that are specific to each student’s needs.


services that assist with the integration of school, life, and vocation skills are a vital part of the student’s day. Occupational, speech-language, and physical therapy strategies are integrated into daily learning across activities, and are also offered in more private settings depending on the individual needs of the students.

Students can access the right amount of therapy in the right settings according to areas of need for targeted development. Having the flexibility and the resources to integrate therapy services based on each student’s needs allows the focus to be on individual growth. This approach is preferred over a one-size-fits-all approach offered a limited number of times per week.


What happens after graduation is a daunting subject for all high school students. Our staff works with students to determine high areas of interest and high levels of skill potential in order to begin planning toward post-secondary work, training, or school placements. Our general education students are invited to participate in post-secondary planning programs alongside The Learning Center students.


Creating a budget, planning a grocery list, caring for a living space, setting an alarm, and accessing transportation are some of the skills we teach to support independent living. These skills are explicitly taught in the classroom and involve regular practice out in the community. For instance, some students take sections of the Personal Finance course, then visit banks to practice the skills taught in class in real-life settings. Practicing all that is involved with having a bank account, grocery shopping, meal planning, budgeting, and components of housekeeping such as safety, laundry, food storage, etc. are explicitly taught, then generalized across real-world environments.

Some of our unique business partnerships within the community allow us to look at vocational possibilities for students in order to train for jobs that focus on the strengths and interests of each individual. We offer Alternate Academic Diplomas for students who are able to meet the criteria and who plan to continue with a post-secondary educational placement like a college or university.



With superior security systems, remote check-ins, and an open door policy for families, you can rest at ease.
Shonda & Jack Caines

Safety and good care are fundamental priorities for our students. Parents often worry about what is happening at school. For students with limited verbal ability, families are at the mercy of the information being relayed from teachers and other school staff. In order to keep families informed and involved, an advanced security system is in place to provide remote video check-ins throughout the school day. The ability to check in not only gives peace of mind, but also provides access to how therapy provision, peer interactions, staff-to-student interactions, and teaching are being managed.


Parents and families are always welcome to come visit The Learning Center. We know this is a way to provide communication and information for students who may be challenged to provide this information on their own. Communication and input from everyone who knows the student is a necessary approach in exceptional education school environments. Outside therapy providers are also welcome to come visit their clients at The Learning Center and to share their knowledge of the student in order to assist our staff. Our goal is to provide the best possible support and care for the growth of the students.



Siskin Children's Institute (SCI) has served  students with developmental differences since 1950. SCI is a regional leader for creating inclusive environments and integrated classrooms for children of all abilities. In establishing the concept of The Learning Center at CCS, conversations related to serving older students well–in the way that SCI has been serving students in their preschool program for more than half a century–led to a partnership between SCI and CCS. In order to provide an excellent program that can serve the needs of all students in middle and high school, the strength of partnering with leaders in education, therapy services, and healthcare is vital.

Families in Chattanooga have been fortunate to have Siskin Children’s Institute as a resource. As SCI expands with more clinicians and specialists, families throughout the state of Tennessee have a resource for comprehensive assessment, treatment, and therapy services. Through the opening of The Learning Center, CCS is thrilled to create ease of access through a collaborative relationship with SCI.

Family Voices of Tennessee Southeast Partnership is an organization of families supporting families. We have volunteers and trained mentors that have personal experience caring for an individual with a special healthcare need, chronic illness, and disability. We connect families with each other and with community resources. We train families to become advocates and leaders. We lead alongside families to ensure their voices are included, heard, and honored.


We believe each child should thrive within their school experience. We are committed to providing outstanding faculty and coaches, rigorous curricular programs, extensive co-curricular activities, and extraordinary facilities that support the unique growth of each child within a flourishing community. Our intent is that each CCS student will experience the grace of God within the timeless Truths of Scripture as they grow to understand their place and calling in his story. Our hope is that each CCS parent will experience us standing with them as we provide a safe place for students to wrestle with the challenges of a complicated world and its busyness and stress. Our goal is that each student will reach their potential within the communities they are called to lead and serve!

Students at The Learning Center are full members of the CCS community. With a vibrant community full of arts, athletics, and STEM events; chapel; and a vast array of Student Life activities, there is always something to attend when you are at CCS.

The opportunity to experience life beyond academics is an essential part of The Learning Center experience.

care beyond the classroom


We have a group of unique community partners to draw from when working toward post-secondary vocational goals. We know that not every student fits into the categories for employment that are typically available for adults with disabilities.

Our goal is to work with students to determine areas of high interest and skill potential and to find a fit with employment that can be meaningful and promote the uniqueness and dignity of each student. Whether it is a small business venture, service industry work, or an IT job, we have campus facilities and community connections to help students meet their career goals.


Students may participate in Pre-Employment Transition Services through vocational rehabilitation services to explore vocations and learn 21st century work skills as well as self-advocacy, goal setting, and other important, life skills.

Leveraging specific partnerships with businesses and state services available, students graduate with skills to enter the next phase of working, learning, and participating in community.


Often, after-school care is not available for students with more significant needs. We provide care for your student well after the school day has ended. The purpose of this time is to allow busy and/or working parents more flexibility when picking up their students.


While there are many wonderful camps in Chattanooga, full-time summer care is not available for older students with more significant needs. We offer care throughout the summer.

Beginning in the summer of 2021, our facility is open year-round, and we provide care to students in our program, as well as other students in the community who need more focused care.

CCS has an exceptional Summer Camps program in place and offers 60+ camps for active kids. When possible The Learning Center students participate in CCS camps such as theatre, sports camps, and art camps.


We want to help families afford the program available at The Learning Center. The cost of having the appropriate amount of staff, right equipment, ideal curricula and materials, and comprehensive therapy services is represented in the tuition and related services fees. Financial aid is available. The financial aid application can be found at ccsk12.com/ admissions. Tennessee state funding and private grants are also available to benefit families in need of financial assistance.

CCS works with students and families to access services through the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE). Families may be able to access Individual Education Account (IEA) funds for eligible students through the TDOE. CCS is an approved school for students who are eligible to receive IEA funding. Funds are able to be applied to tuition, and CCS works with the TDOE to maintain records and is evaluated annually to maintain status as an approved school. Applications and eligibility requirements can be found at https://www.tn.gov/education/iea.

For more information about how to make The Learning Center affordable, please call Shonda Caines at 423.362.4032. 


SISKIN CHILDREN’S INSTITUTE 1101 Carter Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402 PH: 423.648.1700 • W: Siskin.org