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Posted: Mar 19, 2004 11:07

Coronado Academy

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Costa Rica
Linda Schlegel- Admissions Director
866- 372-4789

[This article is outdated. Coronado Academy closed November 28, 2004.]

(Site visit in March 2004 by Jared Balmer, PhD, Director and Kimball DeLaMare, Director of Public Relations and Referral Development at Island View & Oakley School, Utah, 801-773-0200)

Itís not often a couple of local-yokels from Utah get the chance to see the exotic beauties of Central America, but Saul Rudman of Coronado Academy helped make that happen for Jared Balmer and myself in early March of this year. After traveling two hours from the well-appointed international airport in San Jose, we arrived at the extraordinary campus that houses the students and faculty of the Academy. A great deal of thought and energy went into creating this of state-of-the-art facility, which includes everything from well engineered dorm rooms and classrooms to expansive dining and recreational areas located on a beautiful beach. The campus verges on being confused with the nicer resorts of the area.

The well-trained international staff boasts a cadre of professionals who deliver an impressive array of skills and experience. Each person we met was proud of their school and obviously committed. Their camaraderie reflects a unity that is rare in many settings. As we met students, it was clear they felt comfortable in their surroundings. The cultural experiences provided by the school include students visiting the homes of local families for a few hours each week, a recreation program that is innovative, effective and enthusiastically received by the students as they participate in country wide excursions in this outdoor paradise. Academic field trips, local service projects and other interactions round out the studentís opportunities for cross-cultural growth and understanding.

The academic component at Coronado easily conforms to strong U.S. standards with small class sizes, effective lesson plans and individual support. Great care is taken by the faculty to encourage success, but it appears students must have at least average academic abilities. Of particular note is how the Academy attracts a faculty of multi talented individuals who may be surfers, geologists, cultural experts, electronic wizards, etc. In addition to other duties, the faculty generously shares these talents and skills.

John Brown, Clinical and Program Director, is passionate about Coronado Academy. His tireless leadership since coming to the school over six months ago is bringing strong results, including improved consistency within the milieu, strong staff collaboration and effective therapeutic work. John has developed a team approach that is fun to watch, he is in the process of empowering the School Advisors to take on more daily responsibility to allow focus on further school development. The students echoed the results we noted, and several stated they appreciated the increased clarity and structure provided. One young man emphasized how recent changes better support his personal commitments to sobriety while empowering him to help others.

As is the case of other innovators who have the courage to try something new, those at Coronado Academy have had their ups and downs during their first two years, but their ongoing efforts will afford many students a unique experience in a safe and nurturing setting that offers fresh fish, sun in the winter, surfing, volcanoes and rain forest adventure. We both believe Coronado Academy is a real player in this changing market place.

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