Aseltine School

Educate, Grow, Empower.

San Diego, CA   |  www.aseltine.org

Mission

The mission of Aseltine School is to educate and empower students to become critical thinkers of the world.

Ruling year info

1968

Executive Director

Florida May Padilla

Main address

4027 Normal St

San Diego, CA 92103 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

95-2552382

NTEE code info

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Specialized Education Institutions/Schools for Visually or Hearing Impaired, Learning Disabled (B28)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2020 and 2018.
Register now

Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Aseltine students have been unsuccessful in school, leading them to feel hopeless, angry and discouraged. They have developed strong identities of incapable students and victims of hardship. At other schools, they developed unsafe strategies to deal with frustration, challenge or conflict – habits that prevent their academic, social and emotional growth.

These vulnerable children are at disproportionate risk of incarceration and institutionalization due to poverty, disabilities and ethnicity. They have attended many schools and received services from outside agencies; none have given them the intensive support necessary to overcome their challenges and lead productive lives.

The traditional approach to education (reward and punishment) has not impacted these students. Aseltine teaches at-risk youth to deal with conflict and challenge in constructive ways. Without this innovative intervention, they will continue down a costly path to incarceration, addiction, abuse and poverty.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Conflict Resolution Program

The typical school response to conflict and defiance is isolation or punishment; Aseltine students face a more demanding and enlightening consequence: to examine their issues, confront the root of their behavior and develop strategies to deal with future conflict.

Students undertake this essential work in the Conflict Resolution Program. While students still complete academic work, their priority is to resolve their issues and learn healthy conflict resolution skills. This work mostly occurs as dialogue, but also includes papers (from 5 - 50 pages), apology letters, counseling, and discussions with the teacher, peer(s) or others involved. Time in the program varies from minutes to months depending on the severity of the issue and, most importantly, a student’s willingness to work with staff to critically analyze and solve it.

Rather than argue with their resistance, staff pose the question, “if not school, then what?” This moves students from being shut down and dismissed to being engaged and challenged on their ideas of the world and their place in it. In these candid conversations, staff members question, share and listen; this authenticity allows them to deliver “tough love” to help at-risk youth rethink their unhealthy actions and mindsets and invent productive ways to deal with challenge.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
People with psychosocial disabilities

The Fine Arts Program exposes at-risk youth to art forms that enhance their academic and emotional growth The Guest Artist Component expands opportunities for severely at-risk youth to discover talents and passions and develop creative problem-solving skills. These guest artists increase the forms of art Aseltine can offer instruction in, exposing students to more art styles and connecting them with more positive mentors than one Art Teacher could.

Respecting that students are experts of their worlds, Aseltine consults students to determine what styles of art to include each year. Partnerships have included local poets, graffiti artists, traditional artists, drumming, musicians, songwriters and music producers.

Each of these art styles will expose students to new forms of expression they can use to explore and express their emotions in healthy, productive ways. Instead of expressing their frustrations and hiding their struggles with violent outbursts – the biggest obstacle to Aseltine students’ success – these lessons will give young people the tools to work through their issues and confront their frustrations.

The variety of art lessons provided by guest instructors increases engagement for students of all learning styles and expressive preferences: visual (poetry writing, photography and murals), aural (music) or oral (poetry readings).

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
People with learning disabilities

Aseltine's Culinary Arts Program teaches teamwork, camaraderie and leadership. During the year, students cook and serve breakfast and collect and track orders for staff and students. Students use their math skills and hone their social skills while taking and delivering orders; and learn the basics of cooking and meal-planning.Summer school provides students a special opportunity to continue mastering these skills in the Summer Stars Culinary Program - and to exhibit their many abilities while learning to start-up and run a business. In the 6-week work-study program, students develop and research a café theme, decorate the café, design and create menus, inventory supplies, comparison shop, prepare and serve meals, clean up and balance the café's budget. Students receive a stipend and have the opportunity to participate in profit-sharing if their attendance is at least 90% and their behavior scores are high, clearly demonstrating the consequences their behavior has in their lives.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
People with learning disabilities

The Outreach Program provides at-risk youth with opportunities to develop confidence, social skills and a sense of belonging in the community – opportunities previously denied them due to poverty, anti-social behaviors and school struggles. Events vary each year, but typically include attending/visiting sporting events, dramatic performances, arcades, parks and restaurants. During these outings, students engage in new activities, safely explore their community, and enjoy a meal – common occurrences in many people’s home lives, but not for many Aseltine students. Staff and students engage in authentic conversations about students concerns, fears, hopes, and perspectives. These conversations provide unique opportunities for staff members to better understand students and to share their own stories, perspectives and advice in a “neutral” environment outside the school setting where students are more open and willing to listen and share.

Staff members transport students to events and to/from home (all events take place after the school day or during school breaks). This helps ensure students arrive home safely and are able to participate in the program, even if their parents/guardians are unable or unwilling to transport them. It also provides increased opportunities to develop relationships and build trust among staff and students.

The program helps isolated, angry students at risk for incarceration and institutionalization connect with adults and peers and feel connected to, accepted in and comfortable with the San Diego community.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students per teacher during the reporting period

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

At-risk youth, People with learning disabilities, People with psychosocial disabilities

Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

All classrooms have a minimum of two Conflict Resolution Coordinators (classroom aides) who assist during classroom lessons and provide behavioral intervention for students as necessary.

Average number of years of formal education for teachers/instructors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, People with disabilities, At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people, Students

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

All teachers hold the required degrees and credentials for Special Education Teachers, as mandated by the state of California.

Number of students receiving personal instruction and feedback about their performance

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

At-risk youth, People with learning disabilities, People with psychosocial disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

All students & parents/guardians receive progress reports weekly, quarterly & semesterly (daily as requested). These reports include data and notes about academic & behavioral progress & attendance.

Number of family members participating in school activities

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, At-risk youth, People with learning disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of children achieving language and literacy proficiency

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, People with disabilities, At-risk youth, Economically disadvantaged people, Students

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Based on performance on standardized tests administered throughout the school year. In 2020, due to the pandemic, we were not able to test all students enrolled.

Number of students showing improvement in test scores

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with learning disabilities, Children and youth, People with intellectual disabilities, People with psychosocial disabilities, People with other disabilities

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Measured by standardized tests in math and literacy administered throughout the year.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Aseltine's broad goal is to help each student realize their full potential; create their academic and life goals, and develop a plan to achieve them. Typical student goals are to: return to Public School; earn a GED or diploma; attend college or trade school, and/or find employment.

In addition, every Aseltine student has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which includes academic and behavioral goals tailored to individual students' needs. Aseltine works with each student to strengthen or develop the deficits noted in their IEP – as well as any additional goals noted by the student and their parents/guardians. A student's progress toward IEP goals is measured throughout the year and reviewed at regular IEP meetings with the School District representative, parents/guardians and others serving the student (e.g. CASA, therapist, etc.).

Aseltine's Education Program fosters students' emotional and academic development so they can achieve their goals. This is accomplished through the Education Program's goals to:

1) Educate volatile students who struggle with controlling their emotions and behavior to become critical thinkers who exercise radical self-discipline – the ability to control oneself in any circumstance – in and out of school.
2) Help students at risk for incarceration, institutionalization and homelessness master healthy social skills, effective communication and conflict resolution skills, and creative problem solving skills.
3) Teach students to view failure as an opportunity for growth; to embrace challenge as an opportunity for innovation and to accept both as normal features of life.
4) Empower students as confident, passionate learners who understand the importance and value of education in their lives.

Aseltine has long recognized problem-solving skills, conflict-resolution skills, radical self-discipline, self-worth, creativity and determination as vital for success – especially for Aseltine students, who must overcome many overwhelming obstacles in their daily lives. It is, in fact, the lack of these skills that has led to these students' placement at Aseltine. Although academic improvement is, of course, an important goal of the Aseltine Program, the primary focus of Aseltine's unique and pioneering program is student development of these important life skills – which then typically translates into improved academic commitment and performance.

1) Design hands-on lessons to address a variety of learning styles and give all students a chance to learn.
2) Use themes and interests from students' lives to reignite their interest in learning.
3) Partner with outside organizations to enhance students' educational and cultural experiences.
4) Engage students in interactive discussions and activities to foster creative problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
5) Create a strong community in which students feel safe sharing their struggles, concerns and hopes.
6) Emphasize student mastery of effective conflict resolution skills through specialized projects and assignments (e.g. role-playing; reflective writing prompts; group projects and activities) and in daily class work and social interactions.
7) Work with impulsive students as active partners in a learning process guided by mutual respect and understanding to empower them as thinkers and learners in their lives.
8) Challenge students to determine their goals; critically analyze their behavior – and how it has helped or hindered their progress toward those goals – and develop their own strategies and plans to achieve them.
9) Connect with students outside a school setting - and connect students to the world outside the school's doors - during after-school outreach activities.
10) Continue to provide these supports in a manner that is safe and effective for students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Special Education Field has a high turnover rate – 75% every ten years (Dage, 2006). Aseltine is proud to have incredible staff longevity, a testament to our dedicated staff and to our program, which is so effective with the most difficult to reach students that the unhealthy behavior they exhibited at their old schools typically disappears quickly – or never appears at all – at Aseltine, leading to a happier, healthier environment for all. This creates a better workplace for staff and an environment in which Aseltine students can make previously unthinkable progress.

Before they can take advantage of learning tools and technology, Aseltine students must accept their academic and emotional challenges; embrace struggle as an opportunity for growth and learning; develop creative problem-solving strategies, and regain their confidence and self-worth – this is the important and challenging work students undertake with the support and guidance of Aseltine's dedicated staff mentors.

Aseltine staff members' experience and knowledge is essential to Aseltine's effectiveness. We are confident in their leadership because they have displayed incredible dedication to “at-risk" youth under increasingly difficult circumstances, strengthening our partnerships with students and our program's effectiveness.

Aseltine's unique program is built on three pillars, which inform and strengthen our staff members' transformative work with young people in crisis:

1) Classrooms as Community: We create an environment in which all members feel safe, respected, encouraged, cared for, accepted, valued and heard. We must understand and validate students' unique perspectives of school and daily life so we can help them understand and overcome their unhealthy responses to them.

2) Classrooms as Partnership: We work with students as active partners (not the passive patients of traditional Special Education). An "active partnership" is guided by an agreement about mutual interests, obligations and rights. We do not do things to or for students, but rather with them.

3) Classrooms that Challenge – Student Empowerment: We challenge our students to identify, understand and overcome the conflicts and problems that arise as a natural part of daily life. Some of our most distinctive work in this area is the development of "critical thinking": staff and students learn critical self-reflection, creative problem-solving and productive conflict resolution and then apply these skills to developing new ways of responding to conflict and turmoil in and out of school.

Working with “at-risk" youth under these three pillars leads to confident, considerate, empowered, engaged students acting with intent and purpose. In this environment, students are able to fully participate in Aseltine's academic and elective courses – which meet California State Standards and prepare them to return to Public School, earn their diploma or GED, enter the workforce, and navigate society.

Aseltine has provided a strong, supportive community for students whose needs have not been met anywhere since 1968. We pride ourselves on putting our students first and in adapting our program to meet their changing needs and circumstances.

Programmatically, Aseltine has accomplished our goal to offer transformative services to young people in crisis – services they will not receive anywhere else in San Diego and which are uniquely effective in helping them gain the problem-solving skills, conflict resolution skills and confidence to become positive, productive community members.

This has led to many remarkable transformations – students considered incapable of functioning independently or controlling their emotions and behavior by other schools/organizations have successfully returned to Public School, received a High School diploma and/or earned a GED as a result of attending Aseltine. Students who arrived performing well below grade level gained the healthy mindsets needed to improve their math and literacy skills and catch up to their peers. Some went on to attend Community College, four-year College or trade school. Many found employment in the public and private sector in professions as varied as mechanics, drug counselors, military personnel, engineers, attorneys and chefs.

In recent years, we have even successfully modified our program to serve severely institutionalized students and those with below average cognitive skills – a population we were previously unsure of our ability to serve. Although these students typically need more time to grasp our difficult and demanding program, we have been amazed to see them master critical thinking, self-reflection, self-control and other high level concepts they had been deemed incapable of learning.

We have struggled in other areas. After School District referrals (historically our largest source of student referrals and currently our only source) began to decrease dramatically in the early 2000s, Aseltine enacted a number of changes to counteract this drop in students served – and, therefore, in income. Aseltine hired a dedicated Development staff to increase our grant income, donor retention, and public profile. Aseltine also looked into increasing students through private referrals and partnerships with other schools and organizations serving students with special needs. Although some of these measures have been successful – e.g. grant income and more public outreach efforts – ultimately we have been unable to leverage these opportunities to the extent needed to offset this deficit.

In Spring 2016, Aseltine launched a Strategic Planning Initiative with our Board of Directors to examine ways to strengthen our revenue stream and increase public awareness of our vital services – to both prospective students and supporters. We are committed to finding new ways of increasing our sustainability and improving our ability to offer students the best educational experience possible.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Aseltine serves K-12 students with severe learning disabilities and/or emotional disturbances who have found little to no success with traditional schooling. All students are diagnosed with at least one disability under federal handicapping codes and have attended multiple other schools before their referral to Aseltine. Before they arrive at Aseltine these vulnerable children have felt marginalized, ignored and misunderstood in their previous schools - and hopeless about their abilities and powerless to change their circumstances.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Suggestion box/email, Classroom meetings (daily) and all-school meetings (weekly),

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    On a large scale, Aseltine asked parents/guardians for input on when the school should re-open after the COVID-19 pandemic. Since many families we serve rely on in-person school to continue earning a living (as they do not have the luxury to work from home) and many rely on school meals, we opened to limited in-person school earlier than we otherwise would have to serve the best interests of our students and their families. This required extensive work to make a detailed plan and to prepare the building and staff to open safely. On a small scale, the High School classroom recently instituted a 4-week term class president and vice president to help lead the class in its efforts to the uphold the class's "Core Values" - these values and election process were 100% student-led and designed.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Aseltine has been requesting feedback from and collaborating with students for decades. It is, in fact, one of the foundational pillars of our unique approach (Community, Partnership and Challenge/Student Empowerment); therefore, we have not noticed any changes in relationships or power shifts since working with students as active, empowered participants has long been the norm at Aseltine. Our students typically arrive with long histories of out-of-control, defiant, often aggressive behavior at their other schools - behavior they rarely (sometimes never) exhibit at Aseltine. This is largely due to the respect and understanding our staff shows our students in every interaction, every day, highlighting how impactful asking for, respectfully receiving and incorporating student feedback is.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Aseltine School
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Aseltine School

Board of directors
as of 3/9/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Jonathon Collopy

Licensed Psychologist/Executive Director, Ryan Family YMCA

Cherry Dimeff

Former VP Finance, SeaWorld

Priscilla Webb

Former Owner, Park & Ride

Robert Fowler

Community Association Manager, Robin Fowler Property Management

Pat Cunningham

Community Volunteer

Chuck Rizzo

Former Construction Contractor

Keith Webb

Former Owner, Park & Ride

May Padilla

Executive Director, Aseltine School (Member Ex-Officio)

William Budd

Real Estate Lawyer, Epstein, Grinnell and Howell

Richard Fahey

Attorney at Law, Lieb & Lieb

Linda Pictor

President, Angels of Aseltine Auxiliary (Member ex-officio)

Ami Strutin-Belinoff

Mental Health Clinician, Atrain

Lisa Spencer

Nutritional Therapist, Lisa Spencer - Functional Nutrition

Tim Henning

System Integration & Custom App Development, Tailored Tech Solutions

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 03/08/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Asian American/Pacific Islanders/Asian
Gender identity
Female
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data