Rigorous Academics


The Academic Mentoring and Educational Support (AMES) Program at Mercy is a four-year program that supports students with identified and documented learning differences. AMES students enroll in the college preparatory program, and meet all Mercy graduation requirements to attend four-year universities. 

The students in this program learn skills and strategies necessary for success in high school and beyond: organization of information and materials, self-advocacy, time management, note-taking, test-taking, reading, and memory. 

Each student has an Educational Plan that is individualized and outlines her unique strengths, challenges, and accommodations. 

Academic Support

Students in the AMES Program are supported on a variety of levels. Each student is provided with an Educational Plan that is specific to her learning style and needs. This plan details the student’s strengths, challenges, testing accommodations, and classroom accommodations. Freshmen are enrolled in a study skills course entitled CORE. In this class they learn organization of information and materials, self-advocacy, time management, and study, note-taking, reading, test-taking, and memory skills and strategies. Beyond their first year at Mercy, students are supported via their AMES directed study period. These classes are small (10 to 18 students) and allow students to access 1:1 assistance from the AMES team with their studies and/or skills necessary for test taking, studying, reading, writing,organization, and advocacy.

The resources available in AMES include: quiet study, discussion groups, MacBook laptops, books on CD, a text book library, and noise-cancelling headphones. While the AMES program is designed to support those students with learning differences, services are available to ALL students. The AMES team is available during all-school study collaborations and by appointment to any student who needs help with the skills necessary for success in high school.

Accommodations We Provide

Extended time on tests
Students who have been identified as having learning differences and who qualify for extended time testing will have the opportunity to utilize this accommodation. The faculty is provided with an up-to-date list of all students who are entitled to this accommodation; however, it is up to the student to ask the teacher for the extended time on each test/exam. 

Note-Taker Program
Students with the note taker accommodation are supported with note taking in class in three ways. They can use the note-taker program where the teacher pairs the student needing assistance with a student who takes and shares her notes. Another manner in which students may take notes is with the LIVESCRIBE SMARTPEN http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/smartpen/. And finally, with teacher agreement, a student can record lectures using their iPad.

Audio Books
Audio Books are available in the AMES Center. The Center has all the major classic titles that students read in their English classes on CD, as well as some text books. The students can check out any of these audio books.

The AMES Classroom is equipped with eight MacBOOKS for student use during their AMES or CORE class, during collaboration, and after school.

Noise Reduction Ear Muffs
The AMES Center offers noise reduction ear muffs to students who prefer a quieter environment. These Peltor “Optime 105” ear muffs improve student focus by reducing noise and other distractions in the classroom. The ear muffs can be checked out for classroom use.

LiveScribe Smart Pen
The Pulse SmartPen captures hand-writing and simultaneously records audio and synchronizes it to the writing, so users never miss a word. It is a digital pen and paper system that allows quick and reliable transmission of handwritten text from paper to digital media. http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/smartpen/

National Testing Accommodations
Testing accommodation applications for the SAT and ACT are available through AMES. These applications must be completed and submitted with the regular application to receive extended time on these college placement tests.

Students in the AMES program, like all students, may need additional tutoring outside of the supports provided in AMES to supplement learning. Mercy may notify a family that a private tutor is a requirement for admission to Mercy. At times, outside tutoring may be required throughout the student’s years at Mercy. 

Accommodations We Do Not Provide

  • Extensions on homework/projects 
    • The AMES class period is a dedicated work time for students to complete homework and receive additional support 
  • Shortening or otherwise modifying assignments 
  • Matching with teachers 
  • Opting out of a World Language 
    • There is a two-year World Language requirement. Three years are recommended. 
  • Oral tests or oral re-tests 
    • Students can have a reader who reads the test to them, provided proper documentation of need, but answering orally is not an option. Students must answer via the written component of the test (multiple choice, short answer, etc). 
  • Blanket re-tests 
    • While some teachers may offer test corrections or offer the same topics on future tests that could result in “make-up” points if answered correctly, it is not guaranteed 
  • Reminders for turning in homework 
    • Students are expected to track their assignments via Schoology, the online system where teachers post homework and tests. Parents have access to this system as well. 

Campus Resources

Parent Library
A Parent Resource Lending Library is available in the AMES Center to parents who want further information about learning differences. Parents may stop by the AMES Center to check out books and videos.

Team Meetings
Scheduled meetings with the AMES Teacher/Director are arranged at the start of the school year. The student, her parent/s and the AMES Teacher/Director meet to review accommodations, student progress and college planning. In addition, the AMES team is available throughout the school year by e-mail, phone, and appointment.

Working with Faculty
The Academic Mentoring and Educational Support Program assists the Mercy High School faculty by providing them with Educational Plans profiles. These plans are typically written when a student enters Mercy as a ninth grader or transfer student, and are meant to provide teachers with concise, practical information to help them work productively with the student. The staff distributes these profiles to all teachers in the school to be used as a reference throughout the school year. In addition, the AMES team partners with teachers throughout the school year to provide strategies to best support students in the classroom.

Transition to College

During their four years at Mercy, students will be engaged in conversations about college with their counselor regarding course expectations and desires for college. During the spring of their junior year, students will have individual meetings with their college counselor to begin the college search process. Parents are invited but not required to attend these meetings.

In order to make the transition from high school to college, students in the AMES Program are encouraged to assemble a portfolio of information that outlines the accommodations which have been made during their high school years. The staff can assist students in providing information such as Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) that have been developed by other agencies, as well as testing that has been conducted while the student was enrolled at Mercy.

Some of the colleges AMES students have attended or currently attend:

University of Notre Dame
University of Portland
Santa Clara University
Loyola Marymount University
Saint Mary’s College
Regis University, Colorado
Arizona State University
University of Arizona
Sonoma State University
University of Oregon
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Puget Sound
University of Missouri, Saint Louis
Saint Louis University
Saint John’s University
Lewis and Clark College, Oregon
California State University, Chico
University of Idaho
University of Nevada, Reno

Colorado State University

Open House Presentation

AMES is my life-saver. I know that whenever I need help, advice,
or just someone to cheer me on, the AMES staff is here!Hannah, Class of 2015, Honor Student

Support by Grade Level

Freshmen in the AMES program are enrolled in a CORE class, which teaches these skills. 

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors are in mixed-grade level, directed-study classes where they have opportunities for small-group and individual support on assignments. 

The AMES team consists of several valuable members including Eileen Horan, Sister Charlene Dazols, and Randall Watts. Eileen Horan taught English at Mercy for 32 years and has been supporting AMES for the past 3 years. Sister Char is a credentialed teacher who has been supporting AMES classes for the past 5 years as well. Also the Resource Center Coordinator, Randall Watts works closely with AMES to support students not only with testing but also in preparation for tests.

With a deep passion for education and compassion for students who learn differently, the AMES Team works side by side with psychologists, parents and students to develop an Educational Plan that will best support your daughter’s learning style, facilitate their access to curriculum, and promote success.

For more information contact:

Andrea Cabano, AMES Coordinator