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Schools & Program Visits - Jun, 1999 Issue #58 

Hill Country Place
The Brown Schools
Austin, Texas
Contact: Sue Forsburg, Admission Coordinator

Visit by: Jodi Tuttle, Roving Correspondent
March, 1999

It seemed as if I could be visiting the home of any of my friends as I drove into the entrance of Hill Country Place. Woods surround this Texas Hill Country suburban home and swimming pool. The location provides itself easy access to the social, cultural, and educational opportunities available in metropolitan Austin.

Hill Country Place is a residential program for adolescents who are experiencing difficulties with their behavior and who may have learning disabilities or depression. The program provides a structured therapeutic educational program that includes an intense academic curriculum with enrichment opportunities. Students considered for enrollment are between the ages of 14-17 years old and exhibit one or more of the following behaviors: under-achievement or poor attendance in school; depression; anger; running away; poor judgment in respect to peers; low self-esteem; suicidal thoughts or behaviors; use of drugs and/or alcohol; destructive physical behavior; or the need for medication management.

Hill Country works well with adolescents who have the potential to learn but are resistant to traditional instruction. Through an integrated curriculum approach, educators adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of each student. Hill Country partnered with the University Charter School, a continuing education program of the University of Texas at Austin. The University provides the curriculum, educational testing and diagnostic oversight for the academic program. Many of the students have problems with education as a result of emotional difficulties or learning styles that differ from the teaching styles of the traditional educational process.

The educators at Hill Country teach students through experiential instruction tailored to the specific learning styles of each student. Efforts are also made to develop the curriculum and include innovative teaching techniques to address individual learning styles. The experientially based program focuses on “real world” issues and activities based in the community that give students a “hands on” approach to learning. Thematic units are designed to allow the students to experience and comprehend the relationship between different disciplines within the curriculum. The thematic units incorporate literature, history, science, math, and fine arts.

The students with whom I visited shared that they were very happy with the new skills they had acquired. They described how they learned to accept responsibility for their actions, solve their own problems, and take leadership in the group process. They expressed feeling more capable of relating to their families and understanding their place within the family.

Copyright © 1999, 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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