Schools & Program Visits - Apr, 2002 Issue #92
Stone Mountain School
Linda Tatsapaugh Director of Admissions
Black Mountain, North Carolina
Visit on March 1, 2002
Steve Bozak, MA CEP, Educational Consultant
Stone Mountain School is a wilderness-based therapeutic camp-style school for
boys’ ages 11 to 17, situated on the grounds of an old YMCA camp. The original camp has been changed into a somewhat traditional school
setting with classrooms, dorms, and cafeteria. The program now averages between 12 and 18 months in length, using a “back to basics”
approach, offering a simplified life with out distractions. The boys sleep in one of three cabins that are used as dorms. Although
the first two cabins have no electricity or flush toilets, they do have modern, well-equipped classrooms in buildings nearby, for
use during the day.
This school is in a beautiful valley setting in the Black Mountains with a large lake on the campus. I watched the 36 kids enjoy fishing
and other simple water sports as the staff helped them work on social skills and academics. The staff explained they have a strong
support for kids with lower level academic skills. The classes are small and the kids are often kept in small groups with a teacher
so if behavior problems arise they can be immediately addressed and remedied. The child receives feed back about his actions and the
school day continues.
Minutes into my visit I saw a group of kids sitting outside near a classroom building in a circle with a teacher, working on some
behavior problem that had just occurred. The one child who seemed to be the focus of the problem walked away from the group and sat
alone for a while until he calmed down and rejoined his friends. The teacher and other students seemed to work through this as they
learned what was and what was not, appropriate behavior.
The older group of students was just returning from an 8-day camping trip. This, I was told, was something the kids look forward too.
There are many such fun actives off campus for the boys once they reach a level of maturity where off-campus activity is appropriate.
The kids work hard at modulating their own behavior and as they improve, their behavior demonstrates more maturity. The kids eagerly
want to move up the levels of Mohicans, Pathfinders, Highlanders and Eagles.
These kids can go home on 5 scheduled vacation times. If the child is unable to go home he can stay on campus.
The last few months of this program, the kids live in a more modern and slightly less structured home environment on campus. At this
last level the kids have more responsibility for taking care of themselves. This is a transitional stage for the kids as they move
on and out of this program.
In the summer, on this same campus, there is an emotional growth summer camp called Talisman. It is not academic, but instead focuses
on helping both boys and girls ages 9 to 18 to mature in social skills.
For a non-violent middle or high school boy struggling with both academics and social skills, Stone Mountain School would be a great
place to mature and excel, both academically and socially.