Monday, December 31, 2012

Using Twitter in Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Classrooms

For an hour each week, certified teachers at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School conduct supplemental instructions in their content areas. These supplemental instructions are designed to enhance the rigorous curriculum already in placeThese hours are spent with boys and girls engaging in group activities, teacher-led lectures, and other learning opportunities that contribute to the students’ academic development and recovery. Often in Social Studies’ classes, students learn about the current events of the world around them. This week is no exception.

As a teacher, I try to bring in as many different perspectives of the current events in the world.  In class, students are presented with video clips and articles from various news organizations.  One of the favorites of the students is a magazine that we subscribed to entitled: The New York Times Upfront.  It is a publication geared for high school students. They focus on the big stories of the time period, and make sure that the article has the background information that students will need.  The students also appreciate the extra stuff that appeals to them, like political cartoons.  Recently, we have been doing a “best hits” of these magazines— going back and catching articles we haven’t had a chance to read yet.

This week, the students were met with a new challenge. They had to choose between two different articles.  One article discussed the law in New York City about preventing sodas that are at least 32 oz. from being sold.  The other article discussed the positive and negative nature of the political commercials that flood the airwaves whenever there is an election.  After reading the article, students were asked to respond to the article in the form of a tweet.  As a teacher, this encourages the students to have an opinion about what they are reading.  Also by putting it in the form of a short tweet (140 characters or less), students are limited on how much they can say.  They have to become creative in what they say and how they say it - getting straight to the point.

Shawn reads "Sugar Wars" about the NYC soda ban
The other cool thing about this assignment was the fact that the students had an audience to write for…you!  When I gave the assignment, the students came up with the hashtags they would use so that all of their tweets would be connected. They were very excited to have their mark in the global conversation.

Later today, I will submit the student's written responses to Twitter. So, get on our Twitter feed and see what the students responded to. The soda article’s hashtag will be #nycwar and the campaign article’s hashtag will be #ads.  Our Twitter handle is @CRAcademy and students’ posts will go up today and on Wednesday through my account.  The posts will remain anonymous, but if you have a student here, ask them which one is theirs or guess and see if you were right!

--Written by Kimberly, Social Studies and English teacher

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cedar Ridge Academy and Science Teacher Honored

Recently, Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School and science teacher, Chad Hamblin, were honored by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as "Outstanding Youth Partners."

"For the past seven years, Cedar Ridge Academy has partnered with the BLM on projects to provide exceptional opportunities for Uintah Basin youth and families to 'Get Outside.'  They have helped construct and maintain valuable trail systems in the Vernal urban interface, creating opportunities for thousands of recreation visits to public lands every year. One project in particular was marking and maintaining the Moonshine trail, a beautiful high desert six-mile trail starting from the Taylor Mountain Road and traversing slick rock with incredible vistas of desert reds, white sands, slick rock and views of Ashley Valley." (BLM News Release, Sept. 2012)

Science teacher accepts BLM award for Cedar Ridge Academy

Chad accepted the Youth Program Partnership Award from the Utah State BLM Director on behalf of Cedar Ridge Academy in a ceremony held at Snow College in Richfield, Utah.  Consisting of a plaque sporting a large gold-colored star, the award now hangs in Chad's science classroom as a reminder of the hours of service students have provided to the BLM and community under his guidance.

Earlier in 2012, Chad received additional recognition when he was presented with the Alumni Achievement award from Utah State University.

Cedar Ridge Academy teacher receives USU Alumni Achievement Award

"Science teacher, artist, and community activist Chad Hamblin was a biology major who graduated from USU's secondary education program in 2003. For the last eight years, Chad has taught science at Cedar Ridge Academy, a local residential school for at-risk youth. He started a Lifetime Hobbies Club at Cedar Ridge in order to introduce students to activities like cross country skiing, blacksmithing, and wilderness skills. Chad also provides service learning opportunities for his students throughout the Uintah Basin. Because of his efforts, previously hard-to-find non-motorized trails on federal lands such as the BLM's Red Mountain to Moonshine Arch Trail have become safe and well-marked routes in a time of shrinking recreational budgets. For encouraging adolescents to appreciate and enjoy our natural resources, Chad has been selected to receive the Alumni Achievement Award." (Utah State University, Commencement, 2012)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Transitioning Home from Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School

Cedar Ridge Academy works to provide a journey for each student that allows them to achieve their potential as a person. Each student’s progression towards home is different.  However, as parents await their arrival with excited anticipation, the students go through a bittersweet experience.  This blog post was written by Katelyn about this very experience that she is going through:

Katelyn poses under the shade
Preparing for home is an exciting process at Cedar Ridge Academy, except once you’ve been here for almost two years, it’s actually kind of hard to say goodbye. I’m writing this with the knowledge that I’m leaving in one week. It’s stunning to see how far I’ve come throughout my stay here. When I came in, I was a drug addict, always running away from home, and I had no relationship with my family. When I look back on my first few months here, it doesn’t even seem like I’m looking back on who I used to be. After 22 months and leaving on level 800, preparing for home in a positive mindset is so unreal, yet so fantastic.

Katelyn at Halloween with the scarecrows
When I leave on the twentieth of December, I will have two weeks of winter break at home and then I will start college in January. That alone was a journey I had to figure out. I had to look at how much school was left to finish here and the time limit I had, then I needed to pick out my college classes and register for them. I also had to look at my home contract and all of my plans for staying stable at home to make sure I’m successful. Other than that, I really wanted to spend my last three weeks helping the girls out in my home and acting as a mentor. That is part of what makes it so hard to say goodbye. On top of that I have to say goodbye to staff, students I’ve made friendships with and karate - it’ll even be hard to part with the llamas - as funny as that seems. I think the main thing is that the relationships I’ve built here are like nothing else I’ve experienced before. They’re vulnerable, honest, and caring. Everyone I’ve come to know here I’ve come to love. They know the true me: all my fears, all my joys in life, what I want do with myself. Nothing can replace what I’ve felt in my stay here.
Katelyn poses with a friend in the school
Like I said before, it’s hard, but still exciting to be leaving for home. I know it’s time for me to take my next step in life and move into the unknown. I will keep a place in my heart just for Cedar Ridge and the people in it, and know that they gave me the strength and courage to create who I am today.

Katelyn is now a brown belt in Karate

Friday, December 14, 2012

Third Parties at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School

Cedar Ridge Academy, a therapeutic boarding school for teens, believes in the safety of its students. This is also the number one concern that parents have when considering our program.  One of the ways that we ensure the safety of our students is with a third party. A third party is when you have two people, but there always needs to be another or third person there. With this rule, there is a bystander or witness in any situation. As a student here, I feel perfectly safe about the third parties we use at Cedar Ridge Academy.

When I first got here, the idea of it helped me feel more comfortable in the home and with the staff. I used to have no trust with the staff, mainly because I did not want to open up to them, but having a peer with me when I was doing work project or in therapy helped me feel a lot safer. As I have gone through the program, I have come to better understand my staff and build relationships with them filled with trust. I did not have this trust before and I honestly do not even feel the need to have a third party anymore.  Even though I feel this way, Cedar Ridge Academy still continues to follow the policy, and I must have a third party in therapy - and anywhere else I go.  

A teacher works with a student while another student works nearby.
I also feel pretty safe when I’m around any staff. Honestly, I think that’s one of the best aspects of Cedar Ridge Academy. In my previous lock down facility, the staff did not care to build relationships; it was all about consequences and getting their paycheck. Here it is a lot different. The staff members are willing to help you out and build a strong trusting relationship with you. They don’t jump to the worst possible interpretation when it comes to a situation that has happened. They are willing to hear you out and use empathy because of the honesty you have built in the relationship.

Overall, I do feel that our third party rule is valid and appropriate. The staff members are people that  I feel physically and emotionally comfortable with.

--Written by K.V.

Search Cedar Ridge Academy