[Partner Spotlight] How Courseware and EdOptions Academy Support Clearview Horizon’s Holistic, Whole-Child Residential Program, Monday, April 20, 2020
During the teenage years, academics can offer many pathways into successful adulthood—whether students’ next steps include enrolling in college, beginning a career, or joining the military. But, how can students with significant trauma, mental health issues, addiction, or other personal struggles achieve in school and also receive the therapeutic care they require to improve their all-around health? Clearview Horizon is an all-girls residential boarding school in the mountains of Montana that serves high-school-aged students facing significant life challenges. Clearview’s holistic treatment program consists of group and individual therapy, daily exercise, weekly outdoor adventures, and individualized academic programs to meet each student where she is.
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The Clearview Horizon Residential Treatment Program for Girls—A Team-Based Approach
Students do not stay at Clearview Horizon for all of the high school; on average, they stay in the program for 14 to 18 months, depending on the level of need, before transitioning back home. Tina Sawyers, head of academic programming at Clearview Horizon, works with students in the academic portion of the program, and she stresses the importance of a team-based, holistic approach where therapists, group facilitators, medical staff, caseworkers, and teachers stay in constant contact about each student’s progress in the program. “One kiddo could be presenting academically as super successful and, therapeutically, could be falling apart—or vice versa,” Sawyers noted. “If the therapist is going to be digging into some really tough work, they can give us a heads-up, and we know that if we start seeing behaviors, it changes our approach with the kiddo.”
In order to holistically support the needs of each student, the academic portion of the Clearview program requires a high level of flexibility. Students come in at different ages with varying amounts of class credit from previous schools, and many require academic accommodations (about 40 percent of Clearview’s student population is on an Individualized Education Program (IEP)). Additionally, the young women at Clearview attend school from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. This schedule provides a high level of structure while prioritizing the therapeutic aspects of the program.
Tailoring Academic Coursework to Each Student’s Unique Needs
Clearview Horizon utilizes Edmentum’s solution Courseware in the academic portion of the program because of the flexibility and individualization that Courseware allows. “The way it looks in our classroom,” Sawyers explained, “is that the students each have a laptop. When they enroll, I go over their transcripts; we choose their classes; I enroll them in the coursework classes.” The students work on their coursework together in one of the two campus classrooms, but Courseware allows each girl to work at her own pace on the courses she chose with Sawyers during her program intake. State-certified teachers—usually three per classroom—help students master skills or concepts they might be struggling with and provide personal support.
Students at Clearview initially require a high degree of academic support, but it is important that they learn skills like self-motivation and feel confident in their own abilities. The majority of Clearview students will transition back home within 18 months of their program intake, so learning to take responsibility for their own learning will be a large factor in long-term student outcomes.
Courseware’s brightly colored, visual-pacing dashboards allow each Clearview student to see whether she’s on track in her coursework and help teachers easily identify when a student needs help. “Most of my students have really self-limiting beliefs around their own academic abilities,” said Sawyers. “And, so being in a classroom is really intimidating because it's always a comparison. It's always a competition. And they're used to is not the winner.” But, with Courseware, the visual pacing helps teach self-motivation and confidence because students only see where they are pacing personally without comparing their progress to other students.
One of Sawyers’ favorite parts of Courseware is the easy-to-generate reporting that can be run weekly—or even daily, if need be—for each student. Parents of Clearview students are generally very eager to hear about how their daughters are performing academically, and Courseware allows Sawyers to run in-depth progress reports to share with families and caregivers. The desire for a high degree of communication and progress reporting makes sense. Sawyers added, “When they come out here [to Clearview Horizon], they're giving us their most precious gift. They're trusting their daughters to our care.”
The on-site teachers at Clearview provide academic assistance with a wide range of coursework, but Sawyers is passionate about providing as many academic options as she can to her students. Some courses, like world languages or career and technical (CTE) courses, require a specialized skill set that might be out of the range of Clearview teachers. This is where EdOptions Academy comes in. EdOptions Academy, Edmentum’s fully accredited online school, offers a wide range of core and elective courses supported by Montana-certified online teachers that the Clearview staff can simply plug into a student’s schedule when the need arises. “I have a kiddo, for example, right now who wants to take French,” said Sawyers. Unfortunately, Clearview does not have a French teacher on staff—but with EdOptions Academy, she was able to offer the student a French course with a live online teacher, instead of declining the request. After all, teaching academic interest and the love of learning are large parts of the Clearview program, so Sawyers wants to encourage this kind of self-motivated exploration into new school subjects whenever possible.
What’s Next for Clearview Horizon?
Clearview Horizon currently serves 32 girls in its residential program, but Clearview leadership hopes to expand the facility to house, treat, and teach a larger number of young women. Courseware and EdOptions Academy will allow the academic staff to add more students to the program and still offer the individualized learning experience that truly meets each student where she is in a holistic way. Sawyers is also adding Exact Path, Edmentum’s diagnostic assessment, and individualized learning solution, to the program to further pinpoint each girl’s level of academic skill from her first day in a Clearview classroom.
Sawyers also sees an opportunity to add more specialized CTE courses to the program through EdOptions Academy to accommodate a wider range of Clearview graduates’ postsecondary interests. “We have kiddos that are definitely on the college track, and we work with them to do their online college applications and scholarships,” said Sawyers. “But, I also am realistic that we have kiddos that are not collegebound. So, I really try to work with them on career readiness, encouraging them to take those electives that are in an area of interest.”
Sawyers ultimately credits Clearview Horizon’s team-based approach with the success of the program’s students. Academics are important, but with a group of students who have faced so many challenges at young ages, close work between all academic and therapeutic teams is imperative to student healing. Sawyers summed up the Clearview staff’s commitment to students perfectly: “Hey, I see you, and I'm here for you. And, we're not going to let you fail. So, what do we need to do?"
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