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News & Views - Aug, 1994 Issue #29 

SCHOOLS ATTUNED
Paul R. Crellin, M.D., Medical Director
Yellowstone Treatment Centers
Billings, Montana
406-656-3001 

Dear Mr. Woodbury: 

I read with great interest your article regarding "Emotional Growth Schools", in which you invited "feedback". I agreed with all of the comments that you made, especially with the concern that there are so many youth/adolescents who "do not seem able to act in an age-appropriate way emotionally." Because of this problem you commented that "their inappropriate behaviors and attitudes have reached a point to where some kind of residential intervention is needed". 

For the past 23 years, while in private practice here in Billings at the Child Study Center, I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of youth who were having difficulty in school, in whom school had become a very uncomfortable place, and where they were unable to find much success. I think that this is a rather common problem in most of the school districts in our country. Teachers are overworked and underpaid in many cases, and just don't have the time, interest or effort to go the "extra mile" that is needed in working with these youth. In many cases, they seem ill prepared, because of a limited understanding of how the children learn, to deal with the great variety of variations that they are asked to deal with. 

About 8 years ago, I became interested in the work of Melvin D. Levine, M.D. at the Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I read Dr. Levine's very informative text entitled, DEVELOPMENTAL VARIATIONS AND LEARNING DISORDERS, published by Educators Publishing Service, Inc. of Cambridge, MA. Perhaps you are already familiar with Dr. Levine's work. I then began working with children/adolescents using Dr. Levine's methods, attended a Course in Chapel Hill, and have found it very helpful in my work here at the Yellowstone Treatment Centers

The reasons for these introductory remarks is to tell you briefly about a program that Dr. Levine and associates have developed that in time should be helpful throughout our country. It is called "Schools Attuned". It is presently being implemented in 26 school districts, and further funding has been supplied by the U. S. Dept. of Education. The selected teachers in a particular district go to Chapel Hill for a short period of time and learn about Neuro-Developmental Functioning, and how this relates to the child's individual learning style. Mrs. Martha Reid, an educational specialist with Dr. Levine, helps interpret this to the teachers, who then go home and, with the aid of material from Chapel Hill, teach other interested teachers in the use of this technique. When all have become sufficiently informed about the procedures, they then begin working with just the types of youth that you described in your article. In the experience thus far, the teachers, youth and parents are all very pleased with the results. The advantages are many, chiefly that all school districts in the country may eventually be able to take advantage of this type of program. It will allow every interested school district in the country, eventually, to be better able to serve the youth that are present in all classrooms in every district in the nation. 

I know that Dr. Levine would be happy to have you visit his Center for the Study of Development and Learning the next time you are in that part of the country. I personally believe, from the conversations that I had with Dr. Levine's group during a meeting in Chicago recently, that this type of approach is excellent, and it has the advantage of allowing the teacher to be more successful in working with these "problem" children. Many of these youth's problems are not severe enough to be classified in most states as a "Learning Disability", but their learning style is just enough different that they are not achieving up to their potential, are becoming discouraged, and are "falling through the cracks" of our system. I am of the opinion that is why home schooling and/or the tendency for the development of "religions affiliated schools" has become more popular, even among teachers with their own children. 

I appreciate the opportunity to share this information with you. Through the coming years, we may see that this rather solid and practical approach will benefit the very youth that you and I work with every day. 

Copyright 1994, 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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