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Top Fears of Parents with Children in a Therapeutic Boarding School

Posted on July 10, 2019. Category: Uncategorized

The decision to send a child to a boarding school is not something anyone takes lightly. Many parents of teens struggle through the emotional overload of this kind of decision. Although you and your family are hopeful for these next steps towards healing, there are still very real fears. Here are some top fears of parents who have children in a therapeutic boarding school program like Waterford Country School. 

  1. Will they fit in?anxious mom saying goodbye to kids going to school

After watching your special child struggle and fail and flounder in the school system, community and at home, parents are extra sensitive to the uniqueness of their own child. They realize a traditional path is not working for their son or daughter. They know they have quirks and antics and learning differences. They wish for friends and teachers that will be understanding and accepting. Waterford Country School holds the motto “Where Everybody is Somebody” and treats each child as a unique “somebody” to be embraced. Parents often feel these fears eased when they come visit the school, dorm and campus because they can see all of our kids are unique and quirky and still fit in. Because as Martha Holden, author of the CARE Model from Cornell University said, “You don’t wait for the child to fit into your program, you fit the program to the child.” 

  1. Will they miss home?

As with any change in routine, parents are worried about homesickness for their child while they are away from home. Will missing their family and home life affect them in negative ways? Or worse yet, will they like it so much at boarding school they won’t want to come home? It is normal for parents to worry about their child’s transition. Living and going to school in a home away from home creates opportunity for growth and new skills that might not otherwise be available to your child. The CARE Model used at Waterford Country School takes into account every student’s emotional competence and works together with the parents to keep open communication through the ups and downs of transition.

  1. Will I be left out of their lives?

Many parents fear the boot camp approach to helping troubled teens which takes children out of their comfort zone and forces them to rely on staff and peers to navigate their lives. Waterford Country School does not take this approach. It is very important to our Cornell CARE Model driven approach that families be involved and integral to each student’s daily life. Whatever is needed to make child and parent feel connected to each other. Whether it’s a phone call to say goodnight or a video conference to share about an exciting day, parents at Waterford Country School are encouraged to stay active participants in their child’s life.

  1. Will I still make decisions for them?

When a parent entrusts their child to the care of a therapeutic boarding school, they always worry if they will still be in the parental, decision making role for their child. The fear that they will lose control over their child and their decisions just based on their proximity. It is normal for a parent to want to know what their child is experiencing in their life. To know if they’re hurting or happy, making friends and making good decisions. Waterford Country School believes the child heals when the whole family heals and seeks to communicate with each student’s family as much as possible. Unlike other programs with strict rules and restrictions, interacting with family is never a privilege that can be earned or taken away. WCS involves families in every change or decision pertaining to their child, keeping communication open at all times. Once parents see this team-driven approach, their fears are eased and they embrace the adage “it takes a village to raise a child.”

 

For more information on Waterford Country School’s Therapeutic Boarding School for Boys, please visit: www.therapeuticschool.org or call 860.440.4352

 

Reflection on 2018

Posted on January 8, 2019. Category: Uncategorized, WCS News

holding hands show of support for children in residential care settings

 

Cornell University’s model on helping children in residential settings grow has changed the climate and culture of our agency. We  celebrate every relationship built and every moment of positive change. We cherish them. These are just some highlights of our year…our favorite CARE moments of 2018.

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In the Education Program, a former student (graduated in 2010) came back for a visit to the school. Her impromptu visit turned into a 3 hour visit and the realization that she was having a really hard time personally. After many hugs and tears she said “Thank you, I just really needed to come back to my happy place!” It was amazing for Education staff to see the relational elements of CARE working long after the student was still with us. To be considered a place of safety and happy memories is such a privilege.

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In our Adoption Program the annual family picnic always brings the joy of watching the special adoptive families grow. During this year’s picnic, a young boy named Jonathon declared “I was so happy to come today! I wanted to see my birth helpers!!” The Director and staff were touched that this little boy not only knew he was part of an adoption story but that he coined his own title for the people who helped him find his forever family. His “birth helpers.”

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In our Summer Camp – Camp Cuheca, we had a student working as a Jr. Counselor/Intern from the boarding school. This young man is usually very quiet and brooding, hesitant to engage or get involved. But starting from Day 1 with Camp Counselor training, the staff were amazed to see him step up and help. By the end of the summer, this teen who liked to remain on the fringes and refused to conform was also climbing towers, going swimming and being a leader. This might not seem too impressive but even the campers cheered for him on the last day when he waded into the water for the first time! We celebrate the atmosphere that CARE has created on our campus where every small step outside of the normal comfort zone is an accomplishment!

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In our Medical Program there was a student who came to clinic with constant medical complaints. Although usually her health concerns were unfounded, the nurses listened and validated her concern every time. In the course of their time spent with her they found out she was most comfortable with her own pediatrician from her home town, so they made sure to provide a way for her to get back home and see this particular pediatrician. They realized positive change was happening for this student when she had NOT stopped in to the WCS medical clinic for 6 months. The staff were amazed to see that just being validated and knowing that someone would listen to her concerns greatly helped her anxiety over her health. During the course of her time at WCS, this student also lost 51 lbs, her blood sugar levels had improved and was off of previously needed medications….and this was not the goal for this student….it happened naturally, thanks to the CAREing climate at Waterford Country School!

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In the Therapeutic Boarding School program a young boy was being considered to enter this newest addition to our array of programs. After struggling in school and then refusing to go to public school, he had been homeschooled for several years and now even that wasn’t working. He wouldn’t eat or dress, was heavily addicted to video games. His parents were at their wits end but after several visits with our Boarding School Director and Clinician, they made the difficult decision to enroll their son at our therapeutic boarding school. Knowing that this child had not been in a school setting successfully for a while, the team planned to slowly help him adjust hoping that by a month, he would be able to do a full day of school. He got up, got dressed and went to school for 2 hours the first day…and hasn’t missed a day since! He loves the farm, loves the animals, loves to go to school… his parents are relieved. Lowering the expectation and working very closely with his family, we saw that the right environment, without demands or power struggles can free a child to more than surpass what is expected of them.

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In our Foster Care program, a young boy was struggling immensely. He had been in 3 foster care placements in a week. In every one he refused to go to school and created a giant struggle every day. In his new placement, knowing that he would struggle with the morning time routine and getting to school…his WCS Foster care worker, foster mom and on call staff all arrived at the Norwich office instead of school. They let the boy play basketball and blow off steam while they casually watched and talked. There was no agenda, just a meet-up of everyone who cared about him. After a while of no one trying to make him do anything, the boy came up to them and asked “What are you guys doing? I have to go to school!” That day he successfully conquered his anxiety and school avoidant behaviors….he’s been successfully attending school ever since. This kind of out-of-the-box thinking, where a team comes together to show unity and support while giving a child space to work out their difficulties is what CARE is all about.

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In our Residential Treatment program, holiday dinners are a big deal. The students live and go to school on campus and some of them are not able to go home on weekends or holidays. The WCS Board and Staff throw big dinners and invite everyone to a family meal. This year, one of the student’s biological mothers was planning to come but was having issues with transportation and at the last minute broke down trying to get to the special Thanksgiving feast. Without hesitation, some WCS staff jumped in a vehicle and traveled out to reach her and bring her to the dinner on campus. The CARE model has allowed us the confidence to do just what our motto says…”we do whatever it takes” to help children and their families. Ensuring that this family could be together for a holiday celebration is foundation to the CARE approach, “family involved.” What a change we’ve seen from extending a hand, not just to our students but to their biological families.

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In our Emergency Shelter program one particular child has been admitted 5 separate times in the last 2 years. The difference the staff could see in the young man from the first to the fifth stay was amazing. He was engaged, interactive…friendly. When he was ready to leave on his last stay with us (the shelter is a temporary placement for kids in crisis) he took turns giving everyone a hug and made a point of saying “You never gave up on me.” This same student has finished his GED and is doing well in a new job. The idea that residential staff EVEN in a temporary setting can give a child hope, when they don’t have any…is powerful. Never, never, never give up.

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Even the Staff Support and Human Resources team has stories to share of their CARE infused involvement over the past year. Whether it’s Maintenance coming to fix something a student had broken and instead of bringing punishment, started a casual conversation which turned into a friendship which earned the Director of Maintenance a new title (Hi Uncle Brian!) or the Business Office staff showing up at an intake meeting with a new family just to make sure all the financial paperwork was explained well and questions answered so the family would feel at ease. To our IT Department updating software and installing video conferencing capabilities to ensure that families that were far away could have “virtual therapy sessions” with their child and staff on a regular basis. Although these are people who work behind the scenes, they are all trained in the CARE Model and bring the agency full circle as we work together on behalf of each individual child.

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From comments on our surveys like “I feel safe here”….”the staff understand my problems” …”‘R’ (child’s worker) is my best friend!” we leave 2018 behind knowing that we built relationships, strengthened family bonds, changed expectations, instilled hope and did whatever we could to bring each of our students along their individual path of success. Every day is a new beginning…on to 2019!

 

“Work hard, play hard, learn hard” – Graduation 2017

Posted on June 23, 2017. Category: Uncategorized, WCS News

2017 graduation and awards ceremony at waterford country schoolOn June 16, 2017 the Otto Graham Gymnasium was packed full. Over 25o people were there to watch the Waterford Country School Awards and Graduation ceremony. With the 60 kids from the Levine Education Center (the ‘school’ at Waterford Country School) looking on and cheering, numerous awards were given, each of the 6 Seniors was given the opportunity to say a few words and special guest speakers commemorated the day.

Sharon Butcher, WCS School Principal, said “When people find out I work at Waterford country School they inevitably say, wow, that must cap and gown decorated for high school graduation ceremonybe hard work! Some days its hard, but most days it’s great. This is the fun part. Today I am SO proud of these students…your children.” After calling all the staff to stand and be recognized as part of the team that makes WCS great…awards were given out to all the Lower School (K-5) and Upper School (6-12th grade) students. Awards like “Good sportsmanship,” “Extra-Ordinary Effort,” “Acts of Kindness,” “Class Olympian,” “Word Wizard,” “Creativity in Writing,” “Music Enthusiasm”, “Most Improved,” “Industrial Arts”and “School Spirit” just to name a few. Vice Principal, Pam Giannelli, broke into the programming to shout out some “I Caught You’s” which were unique things she caught students doing over the year. Things like antique bottlecapping, peer mentoring, creating a lunch delivery service, impersonating staff, recycling, and impressive records for scrabble, dodgeball, basketball and the walking challenge (One student walked 51 miles in the month of May…the highest record in walking challenge history!) If you think this kind of recognition is strange, think again. Waterford Country School touts the motto “Where Everybody is Somebody” and nowhere is it more evident than a day like awards day. When everyone gets recognized because they each have unique strengths and obstacles they’ve overcome. We celebrate each of our students and their success.

senior poses with high school diploma at commencement ceremonyEmotional Seniors gave speeches thanking their families and the those who supported them through their school career. Nick said “When I came here 7 years ago, I was a defiant little punk with no dreams or aspirations. Here…I’ve made family.” Eric wrote “For 5 years, WCS was the place I called home.” CJ greeted the crowd with “Konichiwa!” and called 2 special teachers up on the stage “I bought you presents!” Ryan talked about looking back and being shocked to realize that “For a kid who had such distrust for everyone, I genuinely connected with staff here…developed family-like bonds.” Ashley state matter of factly “I didn’t see myself finishing high school” but credited the support and love and security she found at Waterford Country School. “Thanks for the pep talks, even when I rolled my eyes!” She echoed what many of the other Seniors realized, “Obstacles can’t stop you, problems can’t stop you, other people can’t stop you, the only one who can stop you is yourself. Thank you for believing in me.”

proud african american female in white cap and gown at graduation ceremonyGuest speaker, Danny Miller, spoke about being a former WCS student, struggling with a learning disability and behavioral problems. He told the students “overcoming obstacles is a lifelong pursuit…you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.” Danny recalled stories of his time at WCS and the obstacles he faced in his academic life. Humbly, he recognized how much the skills and strategies he learned spurred him on to the place he is now, just completing a Master’s in Social Work degree. What he considers his “greatest achievement.” He encouraged the class of 2017, “Barriers do not limit your potential to achieve. It takes perseverance and determination.”

“We work hard, play hard and learn hard at Waterford Country School,” claims Sharon Butcher. It’s evident from the  overwhelming feeling of hope and pride that filled the gymnasium, Waterford Country School is not just dispensing knowledge to its students but strengthening children and families that desperately need compassionate care.

Congratulations Class of 2017!

For more information about our private special education school, visit the Special Education Page

Bring Your Mojo 2017 is HERE!

Posted on June 20, 2017. Category: Uncategorized, WCS News

7th annual bring your mojo golf tournament in memory of gary saunders to be held at great neck country club in waterford all proceeds to benefit waterford country school

 

 

 

 

 

Waterford Country School’s Golf Committee enthusiastically invites you to the 7th Annual “Bring Your Mojo” Golf Tournament on Thursday, Sept. 14th at the Great Neck Country Club in Waterford.

This is not your average fundraising tournament! The Bring Your Mojo Golf Tournament has become a SOLD OUT event! Each year there are new surprises as well as enthusiastic additions to the committee. This year Waterford Country School’s Golf Committee welcomes Maxwell Satti (ACE Hardware) and Gary Upton (UP Fitness) to the energetic planning team. The tournament is held in memory of founding family member, Gary Saunders, who passed away suddenly on Jan. 27, 2011. Bill Stanley from L and M Hospital takes a swing as one of the golfers for the Bring Your Mojo charity golf tournament to benefit waterford country school As a founding family member, Gary believed in Waterford Country School’s mission of doing “Whatever It Takes” to enrich the lives of children and families with specialized needs. Spurred on by Gary’s life and legacy, the Golf Tournament has raised over $250,000 since its inception! The funds raised helped Waterford Country School to finish Phase 1 of the Otto Graham Gymnasium and fully fund the Gary Saunders Fitness Center inside the gym. This year our goal is to fund the completion of the gymnasium which will include a large classroom for WCS kids, a kitchen, staff/family meeting room and the entryway. We can do it with your support!

Tournament day check-in begins at 11:30 a.m. with a Shotgun Start at 12:30 p.m.  Entrance fees are $166 per player, and include lunch, 18 holes of golf, greens fees, cart fees, as well as a steak and lobster dinner.  The annual golf event also features over 50 raffle items.happy golfers at great neck country club for the annual bring your mojo charity golf tournament to benefit waterford country school

The golf committee is seeking event sponsors, golfers and general supporters. All proceeds will benefit programs and services at Waterford Country School, located in Quaker Hill.  Last year, more than 120 golfers participated and raised over $70,000.  If you are interested in being a Sponsor or Golfer in the tournament, please contact the Development Office at 860.442.9454 or development@waterfordcs.org.

FOR ALL GOLF TOURNAMENT INFORMATION, SEE THE BRING YOUR MOJO PAGE HERE! 

Introducing Hunts Brook Academy!

Posted on May 4, 2017. Category: Uncategorized

Waterford Country School is proud to announce the launch of a new program. Hunts Brook Academy is an alternative education program for middle school age boys. The Hunts Brook therapeutic boarding school program is designed for families with children who have social, emotional or behavioral challenges and are seeking an environment that fosters positive behavioral change. The goal is to create a pattern of successful and positive experiences for our students as they live and learn on our beautiful campus.

This is an exciting new venture for us. We believe all that we have learned through the CARE model and our success using it will be a huge benefit to other struggling families. To find out more about this new venture visit: www.huntsbrookacademy.org

Our first Hunts Brook Open House is coming up soon. Join us on May 31st from 9-4pm!!! Email info@huntsbrookacademy.org for more information.

Bring Your MOJO 2016

Posted on June 23, 2016. Category: Uncategorized, WCS News

We can’t wait for our 6th Annual “Bring Your Mojo” Golf Tournament in honor of Gary ‘Mr. Six’ Saunders. Consider being a sponsor for this one of a kind golf tournament. Every year there’s more surprises and every year the event is SOLD OUT! Spend a day on the beautiful course at Greck Neck Country Club and enjoy a round of golf for a great cause. All proceeds benefit kids and families at Waterford Country School. Bring your Mojo….and make a difference.

Check out our BringYourMojo Promo

Download the brochure from the Golf Tournament Page Here.

Contact Development for sponsorships, donations and tickets. 860.442.9454 or development@waterfordcs.org