Calmness was the emotion I experienced when I entered the ivy covered, historic building of Discovery Academy. Built in 1901, the building is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Historically, the building served as a church, restaurant and maybe a few other entities along the way. Anyway, the ivy tower invites one to become quieted and refreshed upon entering.
Under new ownership, and while maintaining the original flavor of this historic building, Discovery Academy was vastly remodeled to improve the facility for students. One of those improvements included the acquisition of an apartment-like addition located next door for students who turn 18 while in the program.
The newly completed facility for 18-year-olds is ready to be pressed into service. This facility allows the students the opportunity to complete the program while offering the 18-year-olds more of an apartment setting similar to how they will most likely be living when they leave Discovery and move on to a college environment.
Although most of the focus of the school remains the same, Ken Condie, the new Clinical Director, brings a more defined emphasis to the therapeutic program.
Formally with RedCliff Ascent, Condie describes the therapeutic portion of the program as "a maintenance shop, not a repair shop." He says the emphasis of the therapeutic program is to continue a realm of therapy for students who experienced therapeutic intervention, either through a higher level of residential treatment or a wilderness program, but still may need continued therapeutic support before moving on to a more traditional school setting or college.
Discovery's therapeutic program focuses on relationship building, logical consequences, character development and community service. Therapy includes individual, family, group and equine therapy. By incorporating both therapists with wilderness experience and those with residential treatment expertise, Discovery enhances the therapeutic portion of the program with indoor and outdoor activities. Condie incorporates a popular outdoor activity each Friday to help keep students with wilderness experience, attuned to the positive experiences gained through the wilderness programs.
The academic component is a mastery-based program where students acquire their specific work to complete, or "concept," as Discovery calls it. Upon completion of the concept, students take an exam to determine whether or not they mastered the material. If so, they move on to another concept of the course. If not, they receive support and help to achieve mastery before moving on. Besides the core curriculum, students may take an assortment of electives, honors and advanced placement courses. The Discovery test results show average students score higher than the national student average on both the ACT and SAT tests.
Discovery Academy does well with students who struggle with ADD, ADHD, depression, drug problems, oppositional defiance, learning disorder, impulse control disorder, and other behavioral, emotional or learning disabilities. Discovery does not require all students to have an intervention experience before arriving at the school, but does put the students without an intervention on a probationary status to be assured that they will not require an intervention experience. Students must be ready to participate in the program when they arrive at Discovery. This is a great educational and therapeutic option for teens transitioning from other programs such as wilderness or intensive residential treatment.