Day 2: On Sunday, June 28, we started the day touring a young adult program called Focus Point . Ron and Heidi Mendenhall, previously at Monarch School for 11 years, started this young adult transition program last year in August. This was the same time that their son, Alexander came one month early! They own a big beautiful house in Hayden, Idaho. Ranel Hanson is their Admissions Director there and was also previously at Monarch School with Ron. Their program includes both males and females, many of which need extra support on independent living skills. Students receive therapy, go back to school, do internships or hold jobs, and learn independent living skills.
Day 3: On Monday, July 29, we went to see three programs: Monarch School, in Heron Montana, Elk Mountain Academy in Clark Fork, Idaho, and Building Bridges in Thompson Falls, Montana. May and I have one young man at Elk Mountain and one at Building Bridges so we were very excited to see them and check on their progress! We loved seeing all the new buildings at Monarch. This program has so much to offer: arts, AP classes, strong extracurricular, like gardening and horseback riding.
Next we went to Elk Mountain Academy. We were sorry we missed Carl and Loretta Olding, the founders of Elk Mountain, but we really enjoyed eating lunch with the boys, talking to Program Director Blake Miller (left), and also Therapist Janice Knight (right).
Lastly we went to Building Bridges. The young men there had been on a hike over 60 miles round trip and were helping to clear brush near historic power line. They also had been fly fishing and said the trip was fantastic! We liked the small, family oriented nature of Building Bridges.
Day 4: On Tuesday, July 30, not only did my youngest son Luke turn 24, but our group of educational consultants toured 4 programs and went to Lon Woodbury’s office! We started the morning at Boulder Creek Academy. Reid Treadaway was there to greet us and give us a great tour! Somehow I had forgotten he was a Clemson Tiger until I saw the tiger paw on the car!
It was great to see Claude Bisson, M.Ed., Academic Director, and Val Thompson, MA, English Teacher/Curriculum Coordinator, again in the classroom and interacting with students. Boulder Creek does a great job with students with learning differences. We also spent time getting to know their new Clinical Supervisor Rayman Kinman, LCPC. There are many positive changes at Boulder Creek in the recent months. One big change is that they have moved all classes and therapy into one central geographical area. Group therapy is much more frequent and the teachers participate in group therapy with the teams. Also, since Adam McLain, PhD, is the Executive Director of both Northwest Academy and Boulder Creek, they are sharing some great resources. We could see improvements to the gardening, the farm program, an increase in exercise with a new staff person to put emphasis there, and in general, a tightening up in a good way.
Next we went to see Northwest Academy. The students there are, of course, older and a good bit more socially savvy. One phenomenal resource at Northwest is Devorah McIntosh, MA, M.Ed. who helps students with post secondary options. Devorah has a unique talent to help students who have struggled in school and that feel helpless and hopeless, to see how they can graduate high school and make a successful transition to college! Northwest does so many things right for the 17 year old who needs to repair their transcripts, deal with issues like depression, anxiety, or substance abuse, and learn to live more healthy lives, such as, healthy exercise, healthy eating, strong values of honesty and hard work! The two students who gave us a tour were a case in point: one, a young man, likes to wrestle, build programmable airplanes, and is going into electrical engineering at Boise State, and another young woman, who is playing competitive softball on a league and looking to return home for college.
We made a short stop to see Lon Woodbury, who helps struggling teens and is an on line resource for parents. After that we went to see two very small, home based programs: Schrom Boy’s Home and Brinkman House. Both of these programs are geared for young boys who struggle with either attachment or addiction issues, but for whatever reason, need the closeness and supervision in a home. We had great conversations and enjoyed seeing all of these programs.
I’ll be back to tell you more about the last days of our trip. So stay tuned! -Louise.