Woodbury Reports Archives


The Internet's leading source of information on emotional growth schools & programs

Archives Contents

Archives Home
Contents by Year
      1989 - Present
Contents by Topic
      Industry News
      Schools & Visits
      Opinions & Essays

Archives Search

The easiest way to find information is by using our search function. Just type in the words you would like to search for and you'll get a list of articles related to your topic.

Site Index

Schools & Programs
Chat Board
Online Store
Contact Us

Schools & Program Visits - Feb, 1998 Issue #50

Kalispell, Montana 406-755-3149
Visit by: Richard Armstrong, Boundarylines
November 1997 

As I came down the snow-covered road, the trees thinned and before me lay a broad sweeping valley with snow covered peaks and hills surrounding it for miles. “Aahhh - Pure Montana!” I thought to myself. From the directions I had received, I knew the school was on a knoll in a copse of trees just a few miles up the valley by road. There was a very open feeling about the area. 

When I came up the drive, the first thing that caught my eye was the herd of Elk. It was afternoon with the sun shining warmly and the animals were making the most of it. The second thing to catch my eye as I parked in front of the lodge were the two very large and obviously pet pigs also sunning themselves. They didn’t even give me a glance. 

I was warmly greeted by Rosemary McKinnon, one of the Co- Founders. As we toured the inside of the lodge she explained that things were quite busy around the campus as they were finishing up the new boys dorm and trying to get ready for their first winter at the school. They had opened in July of 1997 and have gone through some growing pains, as all new schools do, but were settling into a comfortable pace. The lodge was freshly remodeled and was quite comfortable looking, both inside and outside. On our way through the lodge the students and staff were actively engaged in their pursuits. There was an easy, relaxed feeling with both the students and the staff. The girls who were in their dorms had them fixed up with their own personal touches of home that fit well. On our way through the kitchen there was one young man intent on the makings of dinner. He had a warm smile and seemed quite content with whatever the challenges were before him. 

The Academic building had a class of about ten boys who were trying to focus on a biology lesson along with a video. My mini-tour seemed to be a distraction, yet the teacher handled it well. This building was also recently remodeled and quite comfortable. 

We made our way around the campus to the log cabin the staff and students were building. It was a major project, their progress was slow, yet definitely a craftsman’s work. After making our way to the boys dorm and looking around at the finished buildings, I could see a definite sense of quality and purpose throughout the campus. 

Rosemary gave me a very informative talk of the direction the school was going and the basics of what they had accomplished in the last five months. She had a meeting to be at so I was able to spend some time with the school director, John Santa. 

John spoke of the individualized program in four phases based on students’ accomplishments. They anticipate an average enrollment time of a year, but students could be there longer, if needed. 

The students they feel they do best with are those who would respond to a nurturing program. They want to have the students involved in some of the choices and the school assists them in taking a positive, active role as much as possible. They have specifically designed a supportive environment. The school’s students have come from wilderness programs, other schools and from hospitals. With their two Masters level therapists and one doctoral therapist, they have the therapeutic component built into the curriculum. They also take students who may be on medication as John McKinnon is a doctor available to monitor their progress. They are able to work with students that may have either clinical or behavioral problems because of the depth of the Co-Founders skills. 

At this time, they have a population of about 25 students, the majority being boys. They want to balance this by recruiting more girls. They do get the kids into the outdoors for field trips and for the fun of it. They are looking to emphasize more outdoors experiences as they develop and grow. 

Academically they are applying for accreditation through the Northwest School Accreditation Board. Currently they are using Indiana University Extension Studies for their correspondence classes over the Internet. Their art teacher has a MA in Art Therapy and is quite versatile. They also have three certified part-time teachers. The students go to classes for a half day and the other half is work ranging from cooking, to building and acquiring carpentry skills, to general ranch maintenance, to taking care of the animals. 

I was pleased with what I saw. They have created, and are developing a school along with a program that is flexible and directed to the needs of adolescents and families. They have been candid in their discussion finding a balance that evolves into continued success. They seem to be on the right path. 

Copyright © 1998, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

Site and content copyright © 1998 by Woodbury Reports Inc. All rights reserved.