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Q: Does my teenager have to complete a wilderness program prior to Dewey?

A: No. Students who complete a wilderness program before coming to Dewey, however, often report that their experience at wilderness helped them develop the right attitude for succeeding at Dewey. Since every child is different, we recommend seeking advice from an educational consultant and our staff before making a decision.

Q: How can I determine if The John Dewey Academy is a good fit for my child?

A: The first step is to contact our Admissions Director, who will answer any preliminary questions you have about our program and then conduct a thorough intake interview. If your teenager seems like a potential fit with Dewey, we will invite you to come experience Dewey for yourself. A visit includes meeting with staff and students, touring the school, and attending a class and a Group. For our Admissions Director’s contact details, click here.

Q: How long will my teenager be at Dewey?

A: Our minimum length of stay is eighteen months, although most students take 2 to 2½ years to complete the program. Our experience suggests that troubled teenagers require that amount of time to internalize and solidify new attitudes and behaviors, especially given the academic, social, and emotional challenges they will face in college.

Q: How often will my teenager meet with a clinician?

A: The frequency of individual therapy sessions varies depending on clinical need and averages 1-2x/week. Under our team approach, however, all members of the clinical team interact with the students daily in a variety of settings, such as group, meals, recreational activities, academic classes, and frequent casual, spontaneous interchanges.

Q: How often will I speak with my child’s clinician?

A: This depends on your teenager’s progress and your family’s particular needs at any given time. Parents are part of the team and are encouraged to communicate their observations and concerns to the clinical staff. In addition, our Parent Liaison is always available.

Q: What does compassionate engagement mean?

A: Compassionate engagement is the primary means by which students at The John Dewey Academy help each other to help themselves. It is simply an approach that values rigorous honesty, aimed at helping students develop accurate, realistic appraisals of themselves and the world and challenging previous distorted beliefs. Students “hold a mirror up” to another’s attitudes and actions in hopes that the other student will change for the better. This process helps both the confronted and the confronting student grow stronger. We encourage staff and students to provide caring, honest feedback to one another in order to promote positive personal growth. Constant, ongoing efforts are made by the entire community for this feedback to come from a place of care for the individual and be delivered in a respectful manner. This practice is extremely effective in teaching our students healthy communication and assertiveness.

Q: What is your philosophy on psychotropic drugs?

A: John Dewey Academy has as a fundamental belief that most adolescents can achieve stability and accomplishment in a structured and supportive environment. In most cases, our approach precludes the need for psychotropic medicine interventions. Once stabilized, we encourage those students who are on psychotropic medications to wean off, if clinically appropriate.

That said, at John Dewey, a student’s need for medication is not a barrier to admission. Rather, we strive to ensure that each student is a “good fit” within the broader John Dewey environment. To facilitate the success of every student, we have secured psychiatric support for the program. We have a long history of coordinating care with local psychiatrists and with students’ home psychiatrists, and will continue to do so as we move forward with flexibility regarding medication. At John Dewey Academy, our commitment to personalized care is unwavering.