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Schools & Program Visits - Apr, 1997 Issue #45

Spring Ridge Academy
Spring Valley, AZ
Tammy Prince, Admission Director 
(520) 632-4602

By: Jodi Tuttle, Educational Consultant, Utah
Jodi’s visit: March, 1997

Enjoying a girls choral performance at the Spring Valley Community Christian Church on Easter Sunday seems like typical thing to do on Easter morning. What’s interesting is that this outstanding debut was performed by the Spring Ridge Academy Chorus. Spring Ridge Academy is a school for young women, ages 14 - 17, who are enrolled because they have made unhealthy choices in their lives. Community service in any form is not something these girls have considered important for the past few years. 

Most of these young ladies have either come reluctantly or have been escorted to Spring Ridge during the past three months. The realization how much these young women have achieved since their arrival brought tears of joy to Jeannie Courtney, founder of Spring Ridge Academy, and myself while beholding these transformed young women as they shared their gifts of song with the members of this small community. 

The catalyst for creating this change is Spring Ridge Academy’s dynamic, affirmative program that creates confidence and competence, in five core areas: emotional, physical, academic, community, and spiritual. To create capability in each of the core areas, the program includes comprehensive individual and group therapy; an extensive community integration curriculum focused on the development of social, occupational, and life skills; a student/parent emotional growth workshop series; a comprehensive academic curriculum focused on building a solid academic foundation, plus learning to learn; and a health and physical education experience which includes a wide variety of physical challenges and a knowledge of nutrition. 

The student/parent emotional growth workshop series provides important agents for change. These weekend-long events are highly effective motivational and evaluative tools. The elements of the workshop series provides a centerpiece which is carried throughout the program. Students learn to confront and master their self-limiting beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that separate them from success. The workshops teach students and parents that attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, low self esteem, or other labels that they have previously acquired are challenges to be managed, not immovable roadblocks. Students learn to accept responsibility for their choices, and thus for their lives. The curriculum at Spring Ridge Academy replaced the old style of Behaviorist education with Cognitive Constructionism. In practical terms, this means that skills approaches are being discarded in favor of a focus on strategies, and that the classroom is not a lecture hall at Spring Ridge. Instead, the classroom takes on the flavor of a communications workroom where students learn to construct meaning, to make sense of their world, through experience in an interest-directed curriculum. The processes of learning are as important as the products of learning. Most multiple-choice testing will be replaced by portfolio assessments, exhibitions, and performances. The “integrated” instruction will be extended from individual classrooms to the whole coherent curriculum. 

Learning about learning is as important a goal for Spring Ridge Academy as learning the knowledge base of subjects. Upon entry students are evaluated to determine skill levels and placed in an entry program where they are taught to combine their workshop training with learning about learning to enable them to become successful in the classroom. 

They are encouraged to understand that learning differently does not mean being unable to learn. Once a student begins to grasp these ideas, and has a solid skill foundation, she is placed in social studies, science, math, and English classroom settings with other students for interaction, but her program is highly individualized. As the student enters the regular classroom, her task will be to gain the knowledge in each course that meets the national standards and benchmarks as determined by the United States Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). 

Spring Ridge Academy provides a totally integrated program so that students can come to know success—not just academic success, but success at life. With that success comes confidence and the excitement of achievement, and with that achievement comes the desire and capability to renew and expand communication and cooperation with family and peers. 

Students build a foundation of social, occupational, and life skills which creates motivated, confident, accountable, and responsible young women who know how to be leaders in, and assets to their community. The Academy expects and plans for the graduates to achieve success going on to college, to careers, and to positive relationships with family and friends. 

Copyright © 1997, 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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