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Schools, Programs, & Visit Reports - Feb, 1991 Issue 

Mount Bachelor Academy
(800) 462-3404
Bend, Oregon
Director: Linda Houghton
Admissions: Jane Stewart/Jeff Johnson
Lon Woodbury's Visit: January 28, 1991

Mount Bachelor Academy has been in existence for two and one-half years. In that time, it has grown to 57 students and has established a reputation of being one of the leading quality Special Purpose schools in the country. Although a daily routine has been well established, there is still some sense of the excitement of carving a new school out of the wilderness.

The emotional growth part of the curriculum shows the strong influence the school received from CEDU Schools. But, the similarity is more form than content. The natural evolution of the school has developed its own unique philosophy. In the nine Lifesteps, the child is taken through the stages of child growth and development as theorized by Eric Ericksen. The Lifesteps especially, are a conscious effort by Director Linda Houghton to implement in practice Ericksen's theories.

A student's first year is structured toward getting a handle on the importance of truth, honesty, and other important success values. It is designed to break down those internal obstacles the student has which prevents him or her from realizing who they are and who they can be. The second year focuses on how to take those learned lessons back into society. In the first year the structure is set for the child. In the second year the student progresses to experiences where he or she sets his or her own rules, under the supervision of the school of course. Groups meet three times a week for three or more hours at a time, but tend to be more pointed than confrontation.

Another tool for helping the student become ready to leave the school is the active use of student and staff internships. Each student is encouraged to aspire toward these leadership responsibilities. The faculty/student ratio is about one to five.

The academic side also focuses on meeting the needs of each student as an individual. Many students come with a variety of learning disabilities, so each student goes through a Learning Styles testing process. This takes about a month and is heavy on observation with some formal testing.

Each academic class runs for a semester and is broken into three sections, with each section emphasizing a different learning style. The first section might emphasize approaching the subject from a drama and arts perspective. This might include writing and acting out a play to state some idea or event, or building a physical model to demonstrate a concept. The second section might approach the subject from a wilderness/experiential perspective where the child learns by doing, usually in the outdoors. The third section would approach the subject from a more traditional perspective with the standard reading assignments, lectures, etc. This way each student will have practice in learning through several learning styles, and will have advance notice when a particular section can be expected to be especially hard. The student can then plan to spend extra effort on sections that he or she knows will be hard for him or her and will not be so easily discouraged when other students in the class seem to have an easier time.

Semesters are six months long and each section is eight weeks. The purpose is to ensure there are more than enough class-time hours to learn the material and satisfy accreditation class-time requirements despite the student being called out from class for occasional trips and other activities.

Some students are currently staying at the school after completing the emotional growth curriculum to work solely on their academics. One idea the school is looking at is to expand this so students not needing the intensive emotional growth could come there for only the academic curriculum without going through the emotional growth program. That way students who do not need intensive emotional growth could still benefit from being in a drug free and safe environment while pursuing academics. The tuition would be adjusted accordingly.

Another topic being discussed is opening another similar school someplace else in the country. If this happens, the idea I heard is the second school would emphasize the performance and visual arts, while the central Oregon campus would emphasize science and math.

Copyright 1991, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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