Cherry Gulch

Andy Sapp, Ph.D.

It is my honor and privilege to announce the promotion of three of our directors. Bernie Zimmerman, LCPC, has accepted the position of Chief Operations Officer of both Cherry Gulch & Novitas Academy. Katie Rienstra (formerly Brown), LCSW, has been promoted to Executive Director of Cherry Gulch. Amee Hardy, LCPC, has been promoted to Executive Director of Novitas Academy.

Bernie Zimmerman, was the Executive Director of Cherry Gulch. He is also one of the owners. Bernie started at Cherry Gulch in 2008. Since that time, he has served as the director of each of our major departments and often as head of more than one department at a time. For approximately the past five years he has been the Executive Director of Cherry Gulch. Prior to his involvement at Cherry Gulch he was an educational consultant and before that a hospital administrator. Bernie is also an owner and co-founder of Novitas Academy. He has been promoted to being Chief Operations Officer of both schools. Bernie is an incredible leader and has made so many improvements to the schools over the years. Part of his responsibility will be to train and mentor our new Executive Directors.

Katie Rienstra, LCSW, has done an excellent job as Clinical Director at Cherry Gulch. Prior to joining our team in 2015 she was a clinician at a psychiatric hospital. She has continued to impress as both a leader and a clinician and has taken on more and more responsibility over the years. I am confident in her ability to continue to compassionately and expertly move Cherry Gulch forward in a positive direction. Bernie & Katie were both instrumental in implementing arguably the most significant refresh to the Cherry Gulch program since the school opened in 2006. I love the changes they have made and am confident they will lead to even better outcomes and better student experience.

Amee Hardy, LCPC, Joined Cherry Gulch in 2011 and became the Clinical Director in 2014. She has also been the Clinical Director at a wilderness program for young adults and a clinician at a psychiatric hospital. She transitioned to Novitas Academy as our Clinical Director & Program Director in 2017. She arrived at Novitas during an incredibly difficult time and helped save our school. With her help Novitas is doing the best it has ever done and our culture is more supportive and encouraging than ever.

Andy Sapp, Ph.D., will continue to serve as President & CEO of Cherry Gulch & Novitas Academy. Chris McRoberts, Ph.D., will continue to serve as Vice President of both schools. Chris & Andy are both founders and owners of the schools. Andy will remain full-time on-site at the schools.

It has been so heartwarming to see the progress our students have made and to have had a small part in their success. We have gathered an incredible team of caring, compassionate, relational people who are passionate about the work we do and love helping our students and our school. While the initial vision for Cherry Gulch was mine it is truly better now than I had ever hoped or envisioned. Our amazing team has put their finger prints all over the school and have continued to improve it. I love that they never just think this school is great let’s just keep it like it is. Instead, they are always looking for ways to improve and adjusting program components based on experience, new research, and their own creative and innovative instincts. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of Cherry Gulch & Novitas Academy. It has been an honor to spend my life building a school that will hopefully continue to do the great work we are currently doing long after all the people involved now have passed on.

Cherry Gulch & Novitas Academy will continue to improve and to provide the excellent care we are currently providing long into the future with the help of Bernie, Katie, Amee, and the rest of our team.

Cherry Gulch is a small, private, owner-operated, high-end ranch style, therapeutic boarding school specifically designed for 10 to 15 year-old boys. Our goal is to provide early intervention and prevention to help these boys reach their full potential and to become well-rounded prosocial young men. We provide outstanding academic and therapeutic services to boys and their families.

Novitas Academy is a specialty school for boys age 14-18 with learning disabilities or learning difficulties. Novitas provides a safe, therapeutic, and nurturing learning environment designed to facilitate a successful transition into early adulthood. Boys are inspired to be innovative, entrepreneurial, and outside-the-box thinkers.