Local Re-Education Schools Help Struggling Kids Develop Life Skills


Published:

Exterior of The Wright School

Photo courtesy of imagesbyalex.com

Pete Rich, director of The Wright School in Durham, declines to discuss individual success stories at his school. He explains why. “Our families come and are overwhelmed, in crisis,” he explains. “They are grasping for easy fixes. We’ve had great outcomes, but if I give examples, it reinforces the idea that there’s a magic pill.” He adds, “Families can learn the skills to manage — to help their kids be happy and successful. I want parents to have a real hope in their ability to help themselves and their kids’ lives.”

Helping families find authentic hope rather than a magic pill is The Wright School’s business, and the business of Hope Creek Academy (formerly Just Right Academy), another Durham school that serves struggling children. Most families who need these schools’ services have tried everything they can imagine to help their special needs kids live successfully in the world. The students who attend these schools often have multiple diagnoses of mental, social and/or behavioral challenges. Their experiences at traditional schools have been disastrous. Many have been hospitalized for their problems.

“We are very empathetic to parents,” Rich explains. “The situation they’re in, trying to navigate this world with high-needs kids … They’re trying to help their child. We’re just trying to help them get to the next step.”

Both schools use Project Re-ED’s “Re-Education” principles, developed by renowned psychologist, educator and university administrator Nicholas Hobbs, as the basis for their methods of reaching out to students.

The Re-Education Approach

Hobbs’ approach treats children as parts and products of their ecosystems. He believed troubled kids can be trained to make changes — but their environments should adjust to support them as they learn the skills they require to be successful.

To help students achieve their goals, Re-Education programs provide leaders so kids have reason to trust in environments designed to promote success.

Instead of removing children from their day-to-day lives for treatment, both The Wright School and Hope Creek Academy emphasize helping students develop skills within the context of ordinary activities: academics, chores and, of course, fun. This approach emphasizes the core Re-Education principle that all children should live rich, enjoyable lives in the present rather than merely training for the future.

“A lot of these kids don’t experience joy because they’re in trouble all the time,” says Linda McDonough, director of Hope Creek Academy. “We try to build in daily opportunities for joy.”

Re-Education schools emphasize community-building as part of their curricula because school communities help students learn to interact productively with others. Many troubled students struggle for inclusion in social groups, and these schools offer them opportunities to belong.

For example, Rich describes how The Wright School’s student groups welcome new members with intricate rituals. One group, called the Royals, uses a round table and “dubs” new kids in like knights. “[The rituals] make them feel like they’re part of something – because many of these kids never have been before,” he says.

Both The Wright School and Hope Creek Academy emphasize building students’ sense of competence in handling challenges. The schools celebrate students’ achievements. A child at The Wright School who learns to tie his or her shoes after weeks of effort, for example, is encouraged to demonstrate this ability to multiple enthusiastic staff members. “We not only want kids to have success, but to celebrate their success,” Rich says.

McDonough agrees. “Competency matters,” she says. “We make the kids feel competent.”  

 

The Wright School
3132 N. Roxboro St., Durham
919-560-5790

The Wright School is a free, state-run residential school and mental health facility for children ages 6-13 years. It operates under the aegis of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Students attend for an intense six-month training period, after which the children transition back into their home environments.

Students spend five days a week at school and weekends at home so they and their families can practice the skills they are learning. While in residence, students learn in a structured environment about handling personal conflicts, academics, basic life skills, anxiety and other skills or issues. Goals vary for each child.

“The big work we do is really with the parents,” Rich says. “We have liaisons who go into homes and help [families] develop the skills to support the kids in what they’re learning.” Families receive extensive training in how to manage their children’s special needs, as well as gain access to outside support services. School liaisons work with the children’s regular schools as well, interacting with teachers and individual education program (IEP) teams to help them create academic environments that will help these children succeed.

“The goal is to get them into their home public schools and their homes,” Rich says. “For about 75 percent of our kids, that’s what happens.”

 

Hope Creek Academy
4723 Erwin Rd., Durham
919-932-0360

Hope Creek Academy is a private day school that accepts children from kindergarten through 12th grade and offers a long-term option for families who have struggling kids. Each student’s length of stay depends on that student’s individual needs.

“Some stay through high school,” McDonough says. “Some we nudge out of the nest … Sometimes our accommodations are enough to reduce anxiety enough that a child can be successful in the outside world.”

Work at Hope Creek Academy is structured toward supporting each student’s goals. Students earn rewards for achieving short-term goals, while school activities are structured around their long-term goals. If the family wants the child to function independently, for example, McDonough says, “we focus on teaching him how to do things for himself — how to fix his own lunch, how to ride a bike.” The school also offers guidance on how to improve academic abilities.

“If a child says they want to go back to public school, we will start working for that goal,” McDonough says. “We start upping the pressure on them, and our kids who have gone on have generally been successful.”

 

Next Steps

McDonough hopes to start attracting younger children to Hope Creek Academy in the coming years because her program works especially well for children who are still forming behavioral habits. “You have to work harder with older kids with behavior problems, because the behaviors are more ingrained,” she says.

As for The Wright School, Rich hopes it will be able to keep growing as it has for the past 50 years. He says the school’s goal is “continuing to evolve in the field while continuing to serve hard-to-serve kids. Over 25 years, our philosophy hasn’t changed, but we’ve grown with the mental health field. We’d like to continue on that trajectory — learning what is the most effective way to help these kids get back home and be successful.”


Elizabeth Brignac is a freelance writer and mother of two boys. She lives in Cary.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Day Five — Freedom Balloon Fest and Project Uplift USA

The field was opened to attendees so they could visit the balloon teams and collect balloon cards from each of them.

Day Four — A Trip to the Durham County Library

Durham County Library offers an unconventional way to show kindness to others.

Parents Television Council Urges Netflix to Remove '13 Reasons Why'

Group issues warning to parents, schools about the popular series' graphic and mature content.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2018

This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Website »

More information

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This Memorial Day, honor those who have served our nation as Project Uplift USA hosts the annual Freedom Balloon Fest at Fleming Loop Park in Fuquay-Varina. See 35 hot air...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fleming Loop Park
2321 N. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Website »

More information

Warrior Tech, the Triangle’s only elite Ninja obstacle training facility, celebrates its one-year anniversary with a “Techiversary” party. Enjoy food trucks, live music and...

Cost: $20 individual ticket, with group discounts available. Children 4 and under free

Where:
Warrior Tech OCR Training Facility
220 Dominion Drive
Suite G
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Warrior Tech Obstacle Course Readiness
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Discover Historic Yates Mill - a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of water...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Weekly basic skills cooking class offered for children ages 5-10 at Whole Foods North Raleigh.  This free class meets at the cafe each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and is offered by registering...

Cost: Free

Where:
Whole Foods Market (North Raleigh)
8710 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Join us at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro every Thursday at 10 a.m. for a casual storytime on the porch or even out in the yard. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chatham Marketplace
480 Hillsboro St.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Sponsor: Chatham Marketplace
Telephone: 919-542-2643
Contact Name: Craig Kolman
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Explore the gardens to find the perfect spot to spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. Dress for the weather. Ages 3-5 with...

Cost: Free for Arboretum Family members, $5.00 per child for nonmembers.

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Campus Box 7212
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Telephone: 919-513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump It Up Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Enjoy goat hayrides, live music, food and drink, gemstone mining, petting farm animals and more. Limited parking; $10 donation for the Kids Farms Foundation. 

Cost: $10 parking donation

Where:
Old Mill Farm
8913 Hwy. 751
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Sponsor: Kids Farm Foundation
Telephone: 191-926-09440
Contact Name: Marci
Website »

More information

Learn about the life cycle of the firefly and discover what makes a firefly glow, as well as what species are found in the Raleigh area and how to identify fireflies by their flashes. Weather...

Cost: $1.00 per person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn about the environment at interactive education stations and get an up-close look at some of the living things found along a trail. Visit owls, bees and butterflies; learn how to identify...

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the renowned outdoor and indoor photography festival, featuring the work of 100 prominent photographers from 38 countries. Historic Downtown Wilson is transformed into a vibrant...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Downtown Wilson
210 Moss St.
Wilson, NC  27893
View map »


Telephone: 1-708-271-3042
Contact Name: Jerome De Perlinghi
Website »

More information

Tour D’ Coop is the largest backyard chicken coop tour on the east coast, encompassing more than 20 coops from Raleigh and surrounding cities. The Tour features coops from DIY to designer,...

Cost: $10-$25

Where:
Wake County Backyards
, NC


Website »

More information

Go on a pirate adventure with the Paw Patrol as Mayor Goodway prepares for a big celebration. Meet the newest pup, Tracker. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $22-$33/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Professionals from Capital Area Disc League “CADL” provide the basics of disc golf for beginners. Register for an instructional session at either 9 a.m. or 10:15 a.m. Take your own...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
View map »


Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
Website »

More information

Celebrate the inaugural season of the Raleigh Firebirds, a professional men's basketball team. Enjoy sports-specific clinics, interactive games, inflatables and more. Register on event day....

Cost: Free

Where:
Spring Forest Road Park
4203 Spring Forest Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27616
View map »

More information

Want to get inside Historic Yates Mill? Join us for a half-hour tour (starting at 1, 1:30, 2, 2:30 or 3 p.m.) to view the main power drive and milling machinery while exploring the mill's history...

Cost: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60+), $3/Child (ages 7-16), Age 6 & under free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This Father's Day weekend, Kings Dining & Entertainment welcomes single fathers for a time to be celebrated with other single dads and have fun with their children. Register today...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Dining & Entertainment
141 Park at North Hills St.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Baptist Grove Church
Telephone: 919.787.4528 ext.224
Contact Name: Cynthia Jacko
Website »

More information

Go on a pirate adventure with the Paw Patrol as Mayor Goodway prepares for a big celebration. Meet the newest pup, Tracker. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $22-$33/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate Latino arts and culture with a culinary event, children’s arts and crafts workshops, traditional piñata-breaking ceremonies, Latin American dance and music...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Apex
, NC  27502


Website »

More information

The Beaver Queen Pageant is Durham’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duke Park
106 W. Knox St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

Go on a pirate adventure with the Paw Patrol as Mayor Goodway prepares for a big celebration. Meet the newest pup, Tracker. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $22-$33/person

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Join City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources and staff and volunteers from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the big field at Dorothea Dix Park to view the stars and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dorothea Dix Park Big Field
101 Blair Drive
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2017-18 Education Guide offers 660 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our debut Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. Plus, find out who our 2017 Readers' Favorites are.