I’ve been asked by a few NLA staff how Ella is doing, so thought I’d write a summary. Please feel free to pass this along to other team members. Thank you!
Ella is doing really well. I’m so amazed at how she’s been able to transition from tiny NLA/Young School to a public, co-ed high school of 650 with class sizes around 30 students. Currently she is finishing up her sophomore year, and has maintained a solid GPA. I definitely believe the great education she received at Young School gave her the foundation and skills to be successful in a large school setting. She’s always found math and science to be a challenge; as a result we sought out a tutor for these subjects. Ella willingly attends and benefits greatly from weekly 2-hour tutoring sessions.
The tools Ella learned through her NLA therapeutic experience have helped her get through many challenging situations… many of them at home as we all work through life together! She has been making really good choices as far as friends and activities. I let her know often that I’m very proud of how she has adjusted to life here. It is such a change from NLA. Since her August 2015 graduation, we have been able to stick with our NLA home plan, with just a few adjustments. It has been a valuable guide in terms of technology expectations, curfew, bedtime, etc. Ella continues to work on maintaining respectful communication with us and her brother. But this area is much-improved from before NLA and she is much more receptive to our feedback and consequences.
Ella’s NLA soccer experience definitely sparked an interest in the sport – for which we are very grateful. She is now in the middle of the girls’ high school soccer season, practicing 5x a week and competing in regular games. She is holding her own on the JV squad (a very strong, competitive team), while keeping up with school, chores, and an active social life. She continues to care for her bunny, Amanda. She has developed a number of friendships, some new and others previous to NLA. She dated a young man (also a soccer player) in the Fall which lasted a few months. It was a good opportunity for my husband and I to formulate dating expectations. She’s “hung out” with a few other boys since then, but nothing serious yet. (That’s OK with us!)
Over Spring Break, Ella participated in a lifeguard training course. I was really proud of her dedication— it was 30 hours of intensive training. She learned CPR, how to use an auto defibrillator, and all kinds of water rescue techniques. Although she didn’t obtain the certification (she didn’t pass the written test), the experience gave her a great foundation for future certification, if she wants to try again. She’s quite anxious to get a part-time job, more than anything so she can begin saving up for her own car. (For Ella, and most teens, CAR=FREEDOM!) At this point, however, she does not have a learning permit, so it will be a while before she is driving on her own.
Looking forward to summer, Ella is very excited about attending the Fine Arts Camp she’s been going to for a number of years. She’ll be taking a variety of art and acting classes. There is also a week-long soccer camp led by players from Brazil which I’m hoping Ella will attend. She may get a part-time job, but if this doesn’t work out, I’m hoping to arrange a few different volunteer options for Ella to gain experience and keep busy.
Long-term, Ella has expressed a desire to study psychology in college. This in part could be due to her NLA experience. 🙂 Where she will go and what kind of post-secondary school remains to be determined as we get a little closer to her graduation date. Looking back on her time at NLA, Ella has previously told me that she misses the girl camaraderie. She also misses some of the staff that she grew close with. And – she misses the Bend sunshine! It’s very possible that Ella will want to come back for a visit in the next year or two.
We have lots of great stories to tell. It’s time we told them.
NATSAP has begun highlighting the stories that we have received from parents and former students. Please send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org and as always feel free to peruse the Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs for the hard data that we love so much.