Bridges Academy opened in 1997 as a residential treatment facility for boys. It is located on 35 private acres in Central Oregon between the towns of Sisters and Bend. Based on the school’s 12-point methodology that each student is an individual with individual needs, Co-founders, Darrel McOmber, a teacher for many years, and his daughter Joan, a licensed family therapist, wanted to offer a program with a strong and positive peer culture, positive role-modeling, community living and peer group skills.
With a maximum capacity of 28 boys, students stay at Bridges for 12-18 months, and the program is specifically designed to meet the needs of boys who have problems with substance/alcohol abuse, truancy, disregard of rules or curfew, sexual promiscuity, verbal or physical violence toward family members, runaway, body disfigurement, etc. At Bridges, the family is directly involved with many aspects of the student’s program with workshops, participation in both group and individual therapy sessions and encouragement to have healthy interactions with their child by growing and changing with him.
Bridges is an accredited member of the Sisters School District and licensed by the State of Oregon. The academic component is also unique to the individual, in that it allows the student to progress within his academic level, learning style and is self-paced. Most of the students entering Bridges are credit deficient, but have the opportunity to earn up to 22 credits during their stay, and “most accomplish one and half to two years of high school by the time they leave the program.” The course schedule covers seventh through 12th grade, and those who receive their high school diploma before leaving the program, get it from Sisters High School.