Is it possible for a teen in a residential treatment center to complete school? Is it possible to stay on top of homework? Can a teen graduate? How is an extended stay handled?
It’s a mandate by The State of Ohio Department of Education that all children are entitled to a free and appropriate education. Pomegranate Health Systems treats teens age 12-17 with mental and behavioral health disorders at its 50 bed treatment facility and 20 bed acute hospital.
As part of the admissions process, the education level and school is discussed with the care team. Pomegranate Health Systems also has tutors on-site from Columbus Public Schools, and a small library. The tutors are available to help coach students on individual subjects they need, to get up to grade level and/or pass the GED, or graduation requirements. The tutors are dedicated, caring professionals with special education experience. Harry, a seasoned, special education teacher with Columbus Public Schools, said that for some of the teens he works with, it wasn’t only the teen’s special needs issue, but the setting that became a concern. He explained that one teen learned fine with individualized focused attention, but not in a typical classroom situation where he was easily distracted between his diagnosis and individual learning style.
This school year, 2013-2014, Pomegranate moved from VCS, Virtual Community Schools online classroom to an on-site structured classroom setting with Summit Academy Management. Summit Academy is a public community school which provides a full classroom experience in a non-traditional educational setting. Evidence has shown that middle and senior high students need structure to thrive, as well as a goal-oriented curriculum and caring intervention. Summit Academy currently has 26 schools throughout the state of Ohio. Including Pomegranate, they also serve in 10 other Children Residential Centers within the state. Summit Academy missions to serve children with ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and other learning disabilities. This year Summit will be serving over 3000 Ohio students in grades K-12.
State Director, Ashley Kaufman has been with Summit Academy five years. She has started programs in three other centers and is excited about starting a program for the Pomegranate children. She discussed the curriculum, which is taught on all 3 ‘campuses’ within the building. “We focus on the academic developmental level of each child, while at the same time being sensitive to the “grade level” designation each student has”, commented Kaufman. “Each student will be assessed to determine their appropriate reading and math developmental levels from which individual learning paths will be generated and focused upon by classroom personnel. Also, each student will undergo an aptitude and skill assessment to determine an appropriate career path that they would be suited for, and encouraged to investigate.” Kaufman added, “Another exciting piece to our program is our non-combative martial arts. Each student will be trained in the martial arts which help to focus on discipline, self-control and left and right brain transfer as the students learn and execute the various katas (martial arts “positions”). Our students really enjoy learning this art.”
As with all public school students, the Pomegranate students will be required to take the state assessments at their prescribed grade level. Though focusing on reading, math, and personal life development, other curricular areas will be addressed to give the students the best opportunity to succeed on these tests. For a more complete understanding of the Summit Academy program, you may visit their website at http://www.summitacademies.com.
Pomegranate Clinical Director, Demetra Taylor says, ‘We offer fairly comprehensive integrative programming, which means our individual and group therapy works in tandem with nursing groups, life skills, and case management as well as recreation, meal times, and schooling. It’s a holistic approach to healing beyond just medication and symptom management. Pomegranate teens may receive educational testing, tutoring as needed. They have earned certificates for achievement, have graduated with GED or from high school, have learned about career options, and have gone on to college, occasionally on scholarship. Learning to learn with mental and behavioral challenges is part of the program and success is possible.’
[Photo credit: Pomegranate Health Systems Summit Academy Classroom on the Meena Campus, one of three campuses, in addition to onsite Columbus Public Schools Library and Tutor Classroom]