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Schools & Program Visits - Jul, 2000 Issue #71 

Tyler Ranch
Spokane, WA

Visit Report on June 17, 2000
By Loi Eberle

As I knew from previous visit reports about Tyler Ranch, the ranch can be more accurately described as comfortable urban living, rather than a ranch. Actually, the “ranch” consists of three well-maintained adjacent houses in an attractive neighborhood. Located in Spokane, right on the edges of the less-developed, open land north of town, it is a home away from home for boys 6-18 years old who have adequate control over their behavior so that expulsion from school is not a predictable consequence.

When I arrived for my visit, there was essentially a block party of yard sales on all sides. I asked how the neighbors felt about the Tyler Ranch residents in their midst, and the response was that the kids were well liked and the ranch had a good reputation. The school bus stops at the corner to pick up the ranch residents, along with students from the neighborhood to take to public school. Nearby is a large athletic field where ranch residents go almost everyday to participate in their required daily hour of physical activity. When not at the athletic field, residents sometimes use the weight equipment in the basement, or the basketball court in the backyard. Physical activity is sandwiched between after-school chores, evening meal preparation and their evening homework and tutoring help.

Two of the houses are residences, each with a house parent and six boys, two or three in each tidy bedroom. The third house is used for meetings and therapy, and the occasional new resident, or the very young resident, while they are being integrated into the group. Part of what motivates the boys to keep the good grades that they do is the ongoing support from the group, combined with close interaction with their public school teachers and tutoring from their on-site education advisor, who also assists with plans for college or vo-tech training. Another powerful motivator is the opportunity to participate in the weekend activities such as skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and climbing, biking and water sports in the summer, available as long as a standard of behavior and grades are maintained. They have a recreational specialist on staff, who plans and trains them for these excursions. From the pictures on the wall and reports from the boys, it sounds like he is doing a good job!

I also had the opportunity to meet the fulltime therapist, who meets individually with each boy for one-hour, then at another time, for a half-hour, every week. Students also have a group therapy session each week, and scheduled family therapy, which can be especially helpful when a student has been escorted to their program. The boys also participate in Narcotics Anonymous groups.

This program looks like a way for a boy to have structure and stability along with emotional and academic support in order to successfully participate in a typical public school. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to be involved in exciting outdoor activities, while doing the therapeutic work needed to modify one’s behavior to create a more successful future. This program has been serving boys since 1978, and has maintained its good reputation based on the quality of care they provide.

Copyright © 2000, 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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