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News & Views - Jan, 2002 Issue #89

Northwest Academy Steps Out of the Box
By Lori Rist,
Northwest Academy Director

Northwest Academy (NWA) took a long look at their student body and listened to feedback asking for a stronger academic program, a more condensed emotional growth curriculum, and additional support for older studentsóand I am delighted that we plan to deliver these and more. NWA stepped out of the box to transition into a 12-month, residential, co-educational high school program, which enables the determined 17-year-old to obtain a high school diploma and address negative behavioral and emotional issues that previously hindered academic performance.

Other than the fact that the program is designed for 17 year olds the student profile has remained approximately the same. Our typical students have struggled with academic, emotional, and behavioral challenges, yet want to complete high school. Their behavior is stable and they generally do not have severe diagnoses. NWA recommends that incoming students participate in a therapeutic wilderness program prior to enrollment. If the student needs additional support after the NWA year, we can collaborate with an 18-year-old transition program to provide an extended range of care.

The new program began the first week of December, and the current students have transitioned nicely, responding positively to the changes. The curriculum is innovative, including experiential learning and emotional growth experiences to enhance the studentís range of emotional comprehension and expression. Students participate in Life skills training and an adult work ethic is reinforced. Individual and group therapeutic support is available to every child.

A robust schedule offers students regular group peer counseling, expeditions and quarterly family visits. The studentsí success in the classroom is maximized through six major emotional growth experiences designed to improve their self-esteem and provide age appropriate tools for coping with lifeís issues. Every student has challenging and inspiring opportunities like field expeditions and outdoor classrooms. A Special Educational Coordinator manages tutorial needs and testing, emphasizing distinct learning styles.

When students arrive at NWA, they begin academic classes and participate in a two-week Assessment Phase. They also join a Peer Group that is followed throughout their program by a multi- disciplinary staff team. The team, comprised of a clinician, counselor, a resource coordinator, outdoor educational staff and academic staff, creates each studentís Individual Program Plan (IPP), which also includes exit planning, writing resumes and preparation of college applications. The IPP incorporates input from the Assessment Phase, the parents, referral sources, and consulting professionals. The students also contribute to the IPP process by setting clear, specific academic and emotional goals for themselves.

A customized program is developed for each student that includes:

  • Core classes for a basic or college prep high school diploma; 

  • Workshops that incorporate key elements of the original CEDU emotional growth curriculum, streamlined for a one-year, age appropriate program;

  • Two peer group counseling forums each week to facilitate emotional growth;

  • Assessment Phase and Life Challenge phases that include emotional and academic work to begin and end the year;

  • Daily emotional growth education based on the CEDU model;

  • Regular physical education;

  • Quarter experiential education that integrates academics, emotional growth and outdoor education;

Each quarter, core elements of the curriculum help increase the studentís independence and personal accountability. In the programís final weeks, students integrate their learning and celebrate their successes through a Life Challenge and graduation.

If needed, a variety of additional components can be provided, including: special education support, college prep classes in advanced math, science and humanities, enrollment in college courses and/or work experience; weekly group therapy with a licensed clinician that focuses on shared issues; individual therapy, life skills curriculum, job shadowing, on-campus work, off-campus job placement and transition support for college.

Parents are supported before, during and after enrollment and participate in CEDU parent education and support programs. In addition, they have special programs as part of the one-year curriculum. Each quarter a parent visit is scheduled in conjunction with their studentís emotional growth workshop. Families attend the ďLife ChallengeĒ and the culminating experience of the one-year program, the graduation.

Each family has one Resource Coordinator who facilitates communication and care throughout a studentís enrollment, which is considered to be a leading-edge case management approach. This Resource Coordinator is a central member of the studentís staff team, and participates in the planning and decision-making for each studentís education.

Northwest Academy is located on a plateau in the spectacular Selkirk Mountains of Idaho, on a 214-acre wooded campus that is a safe and supportive environment, free of drugs, sex and violence.

[More detailed information can be found on their website or by contacting Admissions Director, Fed Lange, at 877-882-0980.]

PO Box 1671 | Bonners Ferry, ID 83805 | 208-267-5550
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