Announcing Summer at Shelterwood

For struggling teens, summer can bring a variety of challenges. Without the organized activities and rhythms of the school year, summer can be a vulnerable season. When your teen is struggling, all you want is your child back — and Summer at Shelterwood can mark the first step towards real transformation for your teen and your family.

Are you concerned about your teen’s choices? Worried your teen may be headed down the wrong path? Summer at Shelterwood is designed for real restoration. Our program features activity, adventure, therapeutic intervention and top-tier education. Students leave Shelterwood with the tools they need for a strong start to the new school year.

Limited spots are available, and you can apply today. Teens can enroll at Shelterwood at any point, with the academic program running from June 5 through August 3. Reach out to our Admissions team to begin your teen’s application process.

Academic recovery

Does your teen need to catch up on class credits, or retake classes to boost their GPA? Both remedial and advanced students will benefit. Students attend fully-accredited academic programming, which includes flexible dates for enrollment and the opportunity to earn a minimum of 1.5 credits Students can earn nearly a semester’s worth of class credit over the summer! Our accredited school is a supportive and challenging environment where students can learn and grow. Time at Shelterwood means your teen will be ready to re-enter school with confidence in the fall.

Customized therapy program

No two teens are the same, and their therapeutic program should be as unique as they are. Our licensed therapists work as an interdisciplinary team to design an individualized treatment plan for every Shelterwood student. Teens participate in individual therapy with their personal therapist, plus group and family therapy. Our clinical team pulls a variety of therapeutic levers to help teens. Modalities include CBT, art therapy, sand tray therapy, play therapy, attachment and family systems. We use recreation, adventure, art, gardening, music and performing arts to help students uncover issues, build relationships and provide clarity for moving forward in life.

Addiction and substance abuse

Is your teen struggling with addiction? Are you worried about your teen dabbling in alcohol or drug abuse? Our rigorous substance abuse treatment and addiction program combines educational, therapy and experiential elements to help students lead a sober, healthy life. Whether your teen has an unhealthy relationship with technology or is struggling with substance abuse, our program sets the stage for recovery. Teens experience our addiction treatment program in conjunction with our summer program for holistic growth.

Building empathy through service

Our service opportunities help teens build character and grow in empathy for others. Students serve in a variety of contexts, from food banks to nonprofit thrift stores, shelters and even the Christmas tree farm near the Shelterwood campus. Teens learn how rewarding it is to give back and make a difference in the lives of others.

Shelterwood is a place where teens grow and find joy.

For struggling teens, Shelterwood is a place where they can rediscover joy. Teens build confidence and grow in character as they try new activities. Summer at Shelterwood is full of adventure and fun, with activities including music and art, gardening and fly fishing, sports and everything in between. Students uncover strengths they did not know they had and have their gifts affirmed. Teens can learn to smile again and connect with their peers in ways that are healthy and fun.

Shelterwood offers a nurturing environment with a foundation of faith.

At Shelterwood, teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose. Our faith-based approach includes inspirational chapel services, optional spiritual retreats and devotional time. Our young adult mentors create a dynamic environment for real heart change. During Summer at Shelterwood, teens learn that they are loved by Christ.

Summer at Shelterwood is a place where struggling teens can find real hope and real restoration. Students experience unparalleled therapy, boarding school excellence and a supportive, structured environment in a community of people committed to their growth.

This season can be a turning point for your teen. Enroll your teen today. Contact our admissions team.

Homework struggles? How to coach your teen

With Spring Break in the rearview mirror and summer vacation around the corner, this time of year marks the home stretch for academics. Yet it can also spell challenges for your teen. It is easy to lose momentum, and your teen may be feeling discouraged.

Has homework become a daily struggle at your home? Our tips for coaching your teen:

1.) Approach homework as a team sport.

Although you and your teen may be at odds when it comes to getting homework done, remember that success is a team sport. You are not rivals, but teammates. Butting heads will happen occasionally, but an attitude of teamwork can work wonders. Remind your teen that you are on their side and that you are ready to work together to make a game plan for success.

2.) Talk openly to pinpoint struggles.

Choose a time when both you and your teen are calm and not distracted. Ask specific questions to identify the specific struggles your student faces. For example, if your teen says, “Math is too hard,” dig deeper. What aspects of class are most challenging? Is the subject matter confusing? Could your teen need tutoring? Or perhaps your teen feels insecure about low grades compared to peers. When you get to the core of the problem, you and your teen can create a solution.

3.) Understand what kind of student your teen is.

To be a good coach, it can help to identify what kind of student your teen is. At Shelterwood, we have found that most students fall into one of four kinds of students:

  • The Motivated Student: This student is driven to achieve and independently pursues excellence in school. The Motivated Student is passionate about academic success.
  • The Motivated, Accommodated Student: This student wants to do well academically, but may struggle in one or more classes. This teen receives help in school and, even with limitations, still strives for success.
  • The Procrastinating Student: This student waits until the last minute to complete homework. It can be difficult to tell that the Procrastinating Student is falling behind until progress reports are sent home. The student may not struggle with the material, but with the timeline. This struggle may be confusing for parents and frustrating for the family.
  • The Combative and Resisting Student: This student becomes agitated and upset by simply mentioning homework. There may be many reasons that a student is combative, including struggles with the subject matter, frustration over lack of study skills, power struggles, undiagnosed learning disabilities or emotional struggles.

4.) Encourage your teen in a way that connects best.

As with any good team, it helps to understand what motivates your teammates. Understanding how your teen approaches homework can reveal big clues in how to encourage them and draw out their best performance. Support your teen based on what motivates them:

  • The Motivated Student: Support this student by providing the time and space to make decisions. This student can often be critical, so be a constant cheerleader. Regular encouragement can help this student maximize full potential.
  • The Motivated, Accommodated Student: When this student falls into the trap of simply looking at the day-to-day successes and failures, frustration can set in. Coach your teen with frequent reminders of the full arc of his or her improvements. It is important not to do this in an empty, vague way, but to truly celebrate success with specific affirmations. Tutoring and peer study groups can also be valuable.
  • The Procrastinating Student: Issues arise when parents are unaware that their student has been procrastinating, and this can erode trust. It can help to ask this student homework-related questions daily, communicate with teachers and support your teen in scheduling. At the same time, be cautious of taking on too much. Rather than allowing your teen to defer responsibility to you, start the conversation about what lies beneath the procrastination. Maybe fear and self-doubt, not laziness, is paralyzing progress.
  • The Combative and Resisting Student: Instead of engaging in the battle, empathy and loving engagement are how you can best coach your teen. Set aside the homework and focus on your teen as a person. This can help get to the bottom of things and uncover the right solution. Consider professional therapy to diagnose and treat underlying issues. Resistant teens can sometimes push parents into expressing their own anger. Rather than taking your teen’s opposition personally, recognize that this teen is in a critical place and in serious need of help.

Homework doesn’t have to be a battle, and parents can come alongside their teen as a coach by knowing their student’s strengths and weaknesses. Are homework struggles becoming a daily problem for you and your teen? Is your student stumbling academically because of anxiety, depression or other concerns? Shelterwood offers real hope and real restoration for struggling teens. Contact us to see if Shelterwood is right for your teen. We are here to help.

School year success: What parents can do now

Being proactive now can help your teen feel greater confidence when school starts. Sam Cummins, Shelterwood Dean of Student Services, shares our tips on what parents can do over the summer to help teens start the school year on the right foot.

%name School year success: What parents can do now

1.) Show, don’t tell.

Showing your teen what to do carries much more weight than telling them what to do. “One of the biggest things I’ve learned as both a parent and an educator is that parents need to model the behaviors they want to see in their children,” Sam says. “When your teen sees you practicing certain habits, there’s nothing better.”

2.) Build on both strengths and weaknesses.

Spend some time reflecting on both your child’s strengths and weaknesses from the past school year. “If your teen had a tough year in math, for example, help them with some enrichment activities there,” Sam says. Look for resources both through your local library and online. Khan Academy is an especially helpful platform that guides students in learning different concepts. Allowing teens to dive deeper into areas where they excel is also a smart summer strategy. Encourage them to pursue subjects they really enjoy.

3.) Begin ACT and SAT prep.

Just 10 minutes a day can make an impactful difference when it’s time for your teen to take college entrance exams. “After your teen does some practice questions, take some time to look together at the answers. Help your teen notice why she got certain questions right and why she got certain questions wrong. Then, approach those areas where knowledge gaps need to be filled.” Teens can be reluctant about test prep, so encourage them to start with a few minutes each day. This attainable goal sets your teen up for success.

4.) Model work-life balance.

“For many teens, their schedules are crowded during the school year. So summer can be a good time to model a healthy work-life balance for your teen,” Sam says. “Teens can feel like they are under lots of pressure during the school year and so they do not learn healthy ways to have fun. Think of ways that you can do some positive leisure activities together.” Sam and his daughter enjoy going for hikes together, for example.

5.) Start healthy habits now.

Creating new habits happens gradually, so set the stage for healthy habits now. “Especially as you move into July, it’s time to start slowly turning the ship.” Again, modeling smart behavior goes much farther with teens. If your teen has been staying up late and sleeping in, start the shift as a family with earlier bedtimes. “Starting small can be helpful and can show your teen what it looks like to make positive changes in life.

Ultimately, Sam says, focus on using time this summer to build a relationship and earn influence with your teen. “As a parent, you don’t have to have it all together and you don’t have to be perfect,” Sam says. “Starting small can be helpful.”

A Fresh Start: Credit Recovery at Shelterwood

Students can fall behind in school for a variety of reasons. They can struggle academically because of poor attendance, and failure to complete assignments. Some may face other circumstances, like anxiety or depression, which have made school more challenging. When a student falls behind, getting back on track feels impossible; but at Shelterwood, students get a fresh start and the opportunity to catch up and excel academically.

“The time and effort our teachers put into the students, combined with our clinical approach and credit recovery options, set the stage for success,” explains John Lawrence, Shelterwood Principal. “In most cases, students are able to catch up and move further along in their academic career.”

When a student arrives at Shelterwood, John and his team begin by assessing where the student is academically. “We look at what credits they have, what courses they may need to make up and what credits they will need to graduate.”

Shelterwood’s curriculum offers several options designed for credit recovery. “For incomplete or failed courses, students start with a pre-test. If they test out of the areas they already understand, then they can move past that unit and catch up more quickly,” John explains.

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For some students, course completion can continue even after the student graduates from Shelterwood. “If a student has not made up all the needed credits while they are here on campus, they can complete their courses through our online platform,” John says. “Our goal is to help our students complete as many credits as possible, so they have the best chance for academic success when they return home.”

“Not only do we help students catch up, we also work with students who want to get ahead and finish early,” John says. Highly motivated students are able to complete two full years of school in one year’s time if they are consistent, disciplined and work hard. “We have students who took it upon themselves to work hard, gain additional credits and graduate early,” John shares. “They left Shelterwood with a fresh start.”

Students also benefit from our smaller class sizes at Shelterwood. Our students receive personal attention and academic support not always available in a traditional school setting.

The support of Shelterwood’s academic team can also make a big impact on student success, John explains. “Every student has an academic advisor, who monitors the student’s progress. We meet regularly as a team to discuss how each teen is doing, so they can be as successful as possible in their school setting,” he says.

When the barrier to academic success is emotional, such as anxiety in the classroom, Shelterwood helps students in those areas as well. “Therapists work with students on focus, drive and determination. Our goal is to help them get back in the classroom and to be successful in that setting, so they can get back on track,” John explains.

No matter where a child is academically, Shelterwood will help that student make the progress needed for success. “Students get back into the academic routine and practice what they are learning in a therapeutic setting. This sets the stage for them to catch up and find success in the classroom at Shelterwood and most importantly when they return home,” John says.

Shelterwood marks 20 years of academic accreditation

When a student completes coursework at an accredited school, those credits are transferrable to any other high school in the country. Especially for Shelterwood students, many of whom return to a home high school or continue on to higher education, accreditation makes all the difference. As Shelterwood Academy marks 20 years of accreditation, we explore why this is such a significant distinction.

Accreditation, explains Shelterwood Principal John Lawrence, is validation of Shelterwood’s academic program to any other educational organization. “Accreditation legitimizes what we’re doing here. AdvancedED is the governing body that backs us, saying our credits are valid and should be accepted elsewhere,” he says.

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AdvancED (formerly North Central), with more than 100 years of work in school accreditation, AdvancED is unique in its commitment to not only certify a program, but help schools improve. In the accreditation assessment, Shelterwood was described as exceptional in our demonstration of standards, and exhibiting practices not commonly found in other schools.

Shelterwood was first accredited in 1996, John says. While the school is formally evaluated every five years, the AdvancED accreditation process is ongoing and improvement is continuous. “This is all about making changes to benefit students and always improve how we are educating them,” John says.

The accreditation process focuses on five key standards: purpose and direction, governance and leadership, teaching and assessing for learning, resources and support systems and using results for continuous improvement. The accreditation itself takes place over a two-day visit, with professionals from a variety of educational institutions on campus.

“They do everything from observations in the classroom, to interviews with teachers and faculty, to gathering parental input,” John explains, plus plenty of preliminary documentation and review.

“Because our accreditation commission comes to see what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, they can give us feedback, and challenge us on how to improve our school. We know what areas we need to work on for school improvement and how to help students in the classroom,” John says.

John, as well as several other teachers from Shelterwood, are also part of the AdvancED accreditation teams for other schools. “It is exciting for us to be able to share our expertise and also see how other institutions are improving.”

Accreditation benefits students long after they leave Shelterwood. John points to a student whose school back home in Texas was uncertain about accepting her Shelterwood credits. John simply contacted the state’s AdvancED representative, who facilitated the acquisition of the student’s credits. “It was because of AdvancED that the student was able to receive her full credits,” John says. “This made her transition back home far more seamless.”

“By continuing to make our school better through accreditation, we are helping students learn and grow,” John says. We’re proud of our commitment to accreditation and look forward to constant improvement. Accreditation is one more way that Shelterwood Academy provides an outstanding and valuable education for our students

Celebrating Graduation at Shelterwood

At Shelterwood, we always cherish the opportunity to celebrate our students’ accomplishments. May 27, 2016, was an especially meaningful occasion — graduation.

For Shelterwood students, graduation marks more than a purely academic achievement. This is a celebration of perseverance, explains Shelterwood Principal John Lawrence.

“Some kids come to us not even interested in graduating high school, feeling that they were too far gone,” John says. “Others face issues in their high school, and Shelterwood provided them a way to continue school and education in a different setting. So for all our graduates, this is an exciting time in their lives.”

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Students from the Shelterwood Class of 2016

Not only is graduation special for the students, it is meaningful for the Shelterwood team too. “This is a significant stepping stone for these students and we played a part in helping the student’s achievement come to fruition.”

The Shelterwood class of 2016 is made up of students with a variety of aspirations and ambitions. Some hope to be teachers, one wants to pursue sports therapy and some want to do social work. Our students’ fully-accredited diploma from Shelterwood means that they can go to college anywhere. Our graduates’ plans include work, community college, distance coursework and attendance at state universities.

Families and loved ones traveled from across the country to support their students. The graduation ceremony began with the traditional Pomp and Circumstance, and students entered the Shelterwood chapel in caps and gowns. A Shelterwood teacher continued the ceremony with a welcome and opening prayer. Another teacher gave a graduation charge, encouraging students to always look forward.

As students received their diplomas, a staff member read a short biography about the student’s hopes for the future, plans for school and what they want to accomplish. Students moved their tassel from one side to the other and graduation caps flew.

“Anytime we have a graduation, whether it’s graduation from high school or from the program, it’s fantastic for our other students too,” John says. “They get to see themselves in it, and see what’s possible.”

For staff, students and families, Shelterwood graduation represents obstacles overcome and dreams realized. “All of us are excited for graduation, because it celebrates what felt impossible before.”

College Readiness at Shelterwood

When a student enters a therapeutic boarding school, parents may fear their teen’s college dreams are over. But for Shelterwood students, it’s often the opposite. From our top-tier academics to ACT and SAT preparation, we work hard to help students get ready for higher education on all fronts.

“Just because they’ve entered into a therapeutic boarding school, that doesn’t change their goals,” says Sam Cummins, M.A. Ed., Instructional Specialist at Shelterwood. “It’s not a dead end for higher education. Actually, the door to college is more open than ever.”

Sam has been at Shelterwood for nearly four years. In addition to leading the independent and online studies program, he guides students in preparation for the ACT and SAT exams.

“The way we help students prepare for college entrance exams has really evolved over the past few years,” Sam says. Shelterwood students have an individualized test prep plan. “Since our students come from many different backgrounds and ability levels, it’s important that they can move at their own pace.”

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Sam Cummins guides Shelterwood students in ACT and SAT exam preparation.

For both ACT and SAT prep, Sam guides students through on online preparation program. Prep for these tests begins with a diagnostic pre-test, which helps students identify areas in which they are weak. Next, students take a deep dive into these subjects and get trained on the types of questions where they struggle. They’re tested again on these concepts to ensure learning.

Test prep at Shelterwood also covers test taking habits and how to prepare for the test day. Shelterwood helps students with test logistics too, from registration to transportation to and from the exam.

College preparation at Shelterwood extends far beyond test prep. “We offer opportunities both for remedial and for accelerated instruction,” Sam explains. Students in an unhealthy high school environment, for example, may benefit from the chance to complete high school courses earlier and receive their diploma ahead of schedule — so they’re ready to start college earlier. Other students may be very close to high school graduation when they enter Shelterwood; they can seize opportunities for college classes to stay ahead of the curve.

Ultimately, Sam explains, students are better prepared for college because of their time at Shelterwood. “We’re going to work with students not just on their outward behaviors and academic skills, but also their hearts, the way they view themselves and on their goals. We address social skills and heart skills so our teens are ready for college,” he says.

By addressing our students’ educational and therapeutic needs, Shelterwood produces strong results. “We’re seeing students do very well and many are accepted to competitive universities,” Sam says. “It’s important to us to help students achieve their goals.”