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New Perspectives - Apr, 1998 Issue #51

At Serenity Ranch
Pat Johnson, Director of Admissions
Conroe, Texas 

“Excel Academy” is located on 25 acres of picturesque countryside outside of Houston, Texas. The academy provides guidance to students unable to advance in conventional education environments. Students participate in a traditional family setting. Upon acceptance to the academy - students are assigned to a family unit composed of; staff ‘parent’, a senior strength ‘big brother or big sister,’ and student peers. This family unit eats together at all meals and discusses typical adjustment or personal concerns. Student families eat, work, and play together. 

“The academy’s goal is to provide a wholesome family living environment in a drug-free setting, enabling adolescents to flourish both emotionally and academically. Our philosophy is based on the principles of the 12 Step self-help program. The 12-Steps teaches responsibility to one’s self, family, friend, community, and country. There are no specific religious teachings at the academy. 

“Excel Academy” strives to improve both scholastic and emotional IQs. To provide the finest, the academy works in conjunction with Step by Step, Inc. (Licensed for drug and alcohol rehabilitation counseling by the State of Texas) and Houston Learning Academy (Licensed by the State of Texas). Staff are trained by Step by Step, to teach students personal responsibility for their own ultimate success or failures. Typical techniques by adolescents to manipulate parents or teachers do not work in this setting. Rebellion is met with immediate consequences. Adolescents learn an immediate sense of “cause and effect.” 

“Our students, though bright and talented, are falling through the cracks of public education. Their peers easily influence them. Alcohol and drug use, depression, sexually inappropriate activity, and defiant behavior at home have interrupted their schooling. Educationally they are quickly falling below their natural given abilities.” 

“Parents are in control through interactive counseling segments held on weekends. We instruct parents in handling a myriad of behavior problems. Many of our adolescents were successful at manipulation. Part of our counseling is training students that these manipulative techniques no longer work.”

“The academic segment provides a fully accredited curriculum. Student-teacher ratio is 7:1 permitting individual attention.”

“Developing strong work ethics is one of the most desired achievements. Exemplary work ethics are essential not only for earning a living but also in achieving a sense of self-esteem.”

Both parents and potential students are screened before an enrollment decision. Commitment on the part of the parents is vital, as well as on the part of the students, although students frequently would rather not be there at first. The optimum size is about 35 students, with 12 professional staff. 

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.)

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