How does Valley View differ from other therapeutic boarding schools for adolescent boys?
Valley View School is a pioneer in the field of therapeutic boarding schools, with a proven track record spanning more than forty years. This history has been built around a nucleus of staff with–collectively–130 years of professional therapeutic experience. Another difference is that we choose to focus on a more gentle and treatable population of youngsters than exists at many other treatment facilities. At Valley View, academic progress is an integral part of the process, with equal status to therapeutic progress. Valley View is a genuine school with two school buildings and eleven full time teachers offering a traditional, yet highly supportive academic program. Drama and arts, a vibrant athletic program, international travel, and a wide variety of extracurricular activities and community service round out the program.
How do you determine whether a boy is right for Valley View?
One can almost intuitively “spot” a Valley View student: he may be struggling emotionally or developmentally; he is not violent or deeply disturbed; and he shows the capacity–if not yet the motivation or willingness–to make improvements. But before we determine whether a boy is right for Valley View, we want to know as much about him as we can. So we talk with consultants, families, therapists, and others who know the boy. We want to know not only where a boy struggles, but just as importantly, what he enjoys doing, what he is good at, and where has he found success in the past. Whenever possible, we want to meet the family and the boy – show them the campus, have them join us for lunch and meet some students and staff. We need to feel, and parents need to feel–and at some level the boy needs to feel–that he is “like” the boys at Valley View School.
What kind of benchmarks does Valley View use to chart a student’s progress?
The Valley View School program is a process, and in our experience, this process does not get done overnight. There are a number of mechanisms whereby a family can gauge their son’s progress. Academic reports are sent home at the end of every mid-term and quarter. These provide an overview of the student’s academic performance as well as his attitude and level of participation. Senior staff members also prepare quarterly reviews of a youngster’s time here, outlining where he is making progress, how he is spending his time, and where he is still struggling. These reports are a collaboration of academic and residential feedback, encompassing a youngster’s overall experience.
Equally important benchmarks include a student’s ability to show more agreeable and less volatile behavior at home; to engage in more appropriate and less ego-centric communication through phone calls and written correspondence; to deal better with frustration and disappointment; to show more effort in school; and to care more about those around him than he did before he started on his Valley View journey.
How long do boys typically stay at Valley View and what determines that length of time?
Students tend to stay at Valley View for two to three academic years. As boys’ struggles and conflicts have not developed overnight, we’ve found that there is no “quick fix.” It takes time for a youngster to unlearn old behaviors and attitudes, and gain new insights and life skills necessary to better cope with himself, his family and the world around him. Because of the comprehensive nature of Valley View’s program, boys are able to progress at a normal academic rate, and need not fall behind academically.
There are two fundamental questions we ask when making determinations about a student’s readiness to move on. One is: Is there more work a boy can do at Valley View School? The second is: Is he ready to function in a less restrictive and supportive environment? The answers to both of these questions may not be clear-cut, but nevertheless, they give us a starting point for conversation.
Emotional and neurological development is an ongoing process in adolescents, and though no one’s behavior will ever be perfect, a young man has got to develop a strong foundation and positive concept of self in order to deal with issues that will inevitably come up on the athletic field, at the dinner table, and in the class room. When we see that kind of improvement, we recommend that a boy is ready to graduate from Valley View.
Are the academic credits that boys earn at Valley View transferable to other schools around the country?
The North Brookfield, Mass. Public School Board, in whose district Valley View resides, evaluates and approves our academic curriculum annually. Boys earn the same credits at Valley View that they would earn in a traditional learning environment. When boys leave Valley View School, a transcript reflecting the academic work they completed here follows them.
If my son has a learning disability or other neurological deficit, how does Valley View help him with that?
Though not a “learning disability school,” we certainly see a number of students for whom academic work has posed substantial difficulties. Historically, our students, while bright, have experienced frustration and failure in school socially, academically, or both. Many of our teachers have worked at Valley View for a long time, and have become well versed in motivating the “unmotivated student,” and getting youngsters to work at their potential. Creating an environment where boys can succeed and giving them the tools to do so is what we strive to do. Our classrooms offer an array of both technical and academic supports including: one-on-one tutoring and word processing devices, graphic organizers, homework reminders, electronic reading devices, and specialized computer software programs in math and English classes.