Interview with Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning PARENT, Kimberley & Joey Hayes
Kimberley and Joey, parents of a student at Applewood Academy, shared their motives and experiences about finding the right boarding school for their son. They emphasized the importance of personalized and therapeutic support, and the school’s dedication to provide what seems missing in mainstream education. They said their son’s growth and development at Applewood School shows the positive impact of the school’s holistic approach.
Highlights from the interview
What really differentiated Applewood was their model of a host parent, a home environment residency, rather than a school residency, which is definitely a lot more personalized. Our son, Andrew, was previously going to a mainstream school. One of the things that we identified, recommended by his therapist, was the need to find a therapeutic boarding school. We realized that there weren't really a lot of therapeutic boarding schools, particularly in the US, that had the resources to support children around our son’s age, who was 12 at the time. We started looking at Canadian schools, too, and we eventually found Applewood. That's one of the factors that really started veering us towards Applewood. The therapeutic approach was a huge differentiator for us.
Moving into Applewood was a big change for him, but it worked out well. Living in a home with other students, living in an environment that was highly structured, that piece was a big change for him. But at the same time, it allowed him to be more successful through his day, and to learn those coping skills to better manage adversity in our daily lives. There was definitely an adaptation period. I would say it took somewhere from 3 to 6 months, before we started to see significant progress or shift in him really getting settled.
I think he’d say that the environment, whether academically or in the at-home setting, has really helped him develop the skills he needs to be successful in a more mainstream high school setting. He feels better equipped to manage anger, cope with adversity, and communicate effectively. He recognizes now, so he was 12 when he went in, he's 15 now.
What we appreciate most is the time that the school takes to understand the needs of the child, with dedication, caring, empathy, and devotion. Their dedication, the time that they take to understand their needs, our needs, the dynamics as a family, making sure that they assign the right resources to support us in solutioning.
The biggest surprise for me came after he had stayed in a home setting with two counselors, therapists, and five other children. I was taken aback by how well it worked. I believe what they try to influence every day is self-development, working on social skills, coping with difficult situations, communication, and respect.
They have a holistic approach that differentiates them from other therapeutic settings. They function as one big team, including host parents, the school, principal, doctor, therapist. I'm impressed by the collaboration and how they work together in his best interest.
I had my doubts. I was like, ‘Oh, my God. How's this going to work? How do they think they're going to manage five kids with all different types of needs?’ I was worried, but it proved to work. I believe what they try to influence every day, to simplify it, is self-development. Just making sure he is working on his social skills, on his ability to deal with difficult situations, his coping skills, his communication skills, and respect for others. That's a large portion of their academic program.
"The experience with the staff and the teachers, for me, has been that they’re very precise, very analytical. They truly take the time to understand your child's needs. Their analysis, with regard to Andrew, has always aligned with what we know about him. All of their feedback, regarding his growth and development, areas of challenge, seem to always be on point.
They have the infrastructure to support your child. They have a holistic solution to support children that they feel they can make a difference in. I think with other similar kids, it would work well. It's a team effort. If you're looking for your child to change overnight, it's not going to happen. It's a work in progress.
Never in two and a half years did we ever feel unsupported by them.
We're one big team, with his host parent, the school, the principal, the doctor, the therapist. We're all one big group, one big team working together. I'm very impressed by the collaboration and how they try to ensure that we're all working together in his best interest.
There are similarities with other parents, whom we've met through the parent group meetings. We have all faced behavioral and social challenges with our children. I see a trend in society where mainstream school settings have not adapted to today's society, leaving some children behind. Therapeutic boarding schools like Applewood provide a solution.
It's worth doing research on schools, and visiting schools, and hiring a counseling company specialized in finding therapeutic boarding schools. They become advocates for your children. It's worth the investment, it's worth the money. They lay the groundwork and become advocates for your children. It's a work in progress and requires a team effort. Change doesn't happen overnight. Take your time and seek advice from others with experience.