Stillwater Gave Me Back My Grandaughter
My granddaughter was lost. After she suffered abuse, loss of her mother and father, grandfather she felt there was no worth in herself or her future, self-harm and suicide became her focal points. She hated me and when I became ill she couldn’t handle it. She wanted out.Read More
I checked into numerous schools and treatment centers but the good Lord kept pointing me to Stillwater. After talking with Lee Caldwell, I knew this was the right place for her. This was the hardest thing I have had to do. It felt like I was shoving her away and giving up on her but after taking her there and meeting them I knew it was going to be okay. They have given me back my granddaughter!!! The owners Lee and Jamie Caldwell are awesome and caring people who stay involved with the clients on a day to day basis. The staff are all wonderful and helpful. The support staff, counselors
and therapists are the top of the line. Everyone makes you feel like you are family. The clients live with housing parents in a family environment rather than a dormitory. The clients get to see how healthy families live and become a part of them. These families treat and love our children as their own. They go to a ranch weekly and interact with animals, mostly horses. They learn responsibilities, work ethics, teamwork, and self pride of accomplishments. The clients work very hard on projects and follow the rules. If the rules are not kept they learn that there are consequences. No one forces them to do anything but fellow clients help one another until they realize that they will get better and life is good when you work hard and follow the rules. The teachers are awesome. My granddaughter has had a 4.0 average since she has been there. She loves it and enjoys learning now. They learn to enjoy and be happy without electronics and commercial gadgets. They learn to appreciate one another and be happy just being together. They hike, they swim, they rock climb and they ride horses. When I see my granddaughter now, she is all smiles and happy. Will there be some struggles, of course but the entire staff, counselors and therapists are there for the families as well as the clients and we get through them. This place called, Turn about teens, Stillwater Academy
is awesome and I would recommend sending your child there without any reservations.
Stillwater Academy – A Decision We Would Never Change
She was bright, clever, and happy starting into seventh grade. In her first quarter there, she earned the highest award that the middle school gives to only two students (per grade level) who are outstanding scholastically and who also show great leadership ability. Looking back now, we could have never guessed what turns our life would take over the next six years. Read More
Then in eighth grade, she started hanging out with different friends – her grades started to drop a little, she became consumed with her appearance, and she very secretly started her anorexic behaviors. In ninth grade, her grades really began to slide, she didn’t spend much time at all with any of her old friends, she began sneaking out at night and she participated in inappropriate sexual behaviors. By the time she finished tenth grade, she was barely passing her classes with C’s and D’s because she was sloughing so much. In her junior year, she started using crystal meth – life spiraled very quickly out-of-control, and by mid-year, she dropped out of school altogether. We told her that she would have to be willing to get help or she would have to leave our home. She left! We couldn’t believe it! She survived living with others – constantly moving from place to place – sometimes with the police not far behind. She would never, of course, tell us where she was living. A month later, she found herself arrested for the third time. The police called at 1:30 in the morning and asked us if we wanted to pick her up. After we arrived back home and while she slept, we laid awake thinking of what to do – knowing full well she would leave again as soon as she woke up. We had checked out a lot of other facilities and programs, but didn’t have a good feeling for one reason or another. Many people and events worked together (actually in a very short period of time) to help us with our decision to put our daughter into Stillwater Academy. We had the opportunity just the day before her arrest to talk with two Stillwater parents and one current Stillwater client with very similar issues to our daughter. Talking to these people gave us so much hope and convinced us that we could do something to help her (even if she didn’t want help), and they all helped relieve a lot of our fears about “housing” Stillwater clients and the safety of our daughter while in the program. To make a long story short, we woke her up and took her to Stillwater Academy by noon the next day. It’s now 15 months later. She has enrolled in college and has just finished her first week of classes. She has a part-time job, lives with three roommates and is taking care of herself. In the safe and very structured environment of Stillwater Academy, she was given the support she needed to learn a lot about herself and about her problems and the “tools” she can use instead to take care of herself appropriately. She learned about “thinking errors” and how she uses them so often to get herself into trouble. Most importantly, she experienced some big successes, learned a lot about her co-dependent relationships, how to learn from her mistakes, take responsibility for her actions, and to not give up on herself! A huge piece of the puzzle of our daughter’s recovery was the realization of our co-dependence with her. (Stillwater actually helps the parents to identify their own issues and work on them appropriately, too.) Incredibly, also while in Stillwater Academy, she finished high school – getting almost straight A’s and at a very special commencement exercise received her diploma. That, in itself, was amazing! When she graduated (“cradled”) from Stillwater Academy, a miracle had happened – standing there that day was our bright, clever and happy girl once again – completely changed from the daughter we had picked up from the police station only a little over a year earlier! She had been so lost. She is back now…..full of life, light, energy and unlimited potential! We feel confident that she has come away from Stillwater with the “tools” to deal with her obsessions and her other compulsive behaviors – helping us to want to let go of our co-dependence with her and have faith in her ability to handle the challenges of life. As one goes through life, one looks back at times and says, “If I could, I would change this or do that differently.” Of all the choices we’ve made, there’s only a few that we know that we would never change – putting our daughter in Stillwater Academy is definitely one of them.
Tom and Rose
Stillwater Academy Saved My Life
I strolled into Stillwater Academy thinking that I was only coming for an hour counseling session. I never knew that this day would be the beginning of my new life. I knew my parents were concerned but I just didn’t care. Read More
I was brought up in a wonderful home with two loving parents and an education
one would envy. I was provided with everything I needed and more, but for me it wasn’t enough. I constantly disrespected my parents and shut them out when they only wanted to know what was going on in my world. I was heartbroken over a relationship with an ex-boyfriend and unwilling to say anything about it. Everyday was a struggle not only for me but also for the whole family. I hated going to school and my grades showed that I put zero effort into my studies. I wanted to be happy and forget about school, friends, family, and anything else that mattered. I was always lying to my parents and going behind their backs. I turned home into an uncomfortable place where I didn’t want to be. I gave up on the idea of college and all I wanted to do was move out. My parents were so frightened for me but they also didn’t know how to approach me. After they put me in Stillwater I quickly saw how unhealthy my lifestyle was and how horrible I was to people who cared for me most. Even though I didn’t like being in a program I was grateful for it and determined to complete it. Six months later I graduated from the program. Ten months ago I never would have thought that happiness comes form telling the truth, but today I can honestly say that I’m happy. My junior year of high school ended in a 1.3 GPA and in Stillwater Academy I brought it up to a 3.8 GPA. I am getting a head start in college doing what I love that most, fashion design. I am going to New York in May with my class, and one day I hope to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. I now have an adult relationship with my family that I once never thought possible. The six months I spent in Stillwater Academy saved my life and helped me to see the potential that I have and all the dreams I can accomplish. I don’t know where I would be today if my parents had never given me the gift of Stillwater. Thanks,
I Wish We Had Placed Our Daughter In Stillwater First
I wanted to write this letter in the hopes that other families won’t have to go through what we did in finding the right place for my daughter. I only wish my educational consultant had recommended Stillwater Academy in the very beginning. Instead he recommended the traditional style boarding school with the beautiful setting and the form lifestyle. After looking at a dozen or so schools on line and visiting four schools, we made our decision based on where we thought she would be happy and do the best.Read More
Unfortunately, the boarding school/campus style setting turned out to be a terrible decision. No matter what the parents are told in terms of monitoring the students, it is impossible to watch the students all of the time in this type of setting. My daughter, along with her new found friends, spent much of her 3 1/2 months at that school figuring out ways to get around the rules. Additionally, she learned new different poor behaviors from her peers. The staff spent more time disciplining her rather than teaching better behaviors. Stillwater Academy has a completely different approach and it works… not just with my daughter but with every other student I have gotten to know over the past four months. She has done so well that she will be ready to graduate the program at Stillwater Academy in the next couple of months. However, she has decided that it is in her best interest to finish high school at Stillwater in their step-down program, which means she will remain there for an additional year by choice. (She will also be graduating from Stillwater Academy a year early). Stillwater Academy is very successful over the other schools I have experienced and researched for some fundamental reasons.
- The approach is completely positive and encouraging rather than punitive. The students truly believe that the staff really does care, because they really do. Yes, students are completely accountable for their actions and there are consequences for bad behavior; however, the consequences are directly related to the action and are there to help teach and not punish.
- At the previous school (along with the others we visited), Consequences we usually meant manual labor such as weeding for five hours or being placed on bans as to whom she could speak with. At one point, my daughter was denied a student trip because she spoke out twice in class without thinking and raising her hand first. (She’s ADHD).
- This same impulsiveness and impatience has been handled very differently at Sillwater Academy. Her peers also saw these same traits; however, to help her, they came up with an extra step in the process my daughter had to go through before speaking. This resulted in her becoming more aware of her actions. As for her “I want it now” moments, the staff has her wait before receiving things. These issues are not even why my daughter is in a program, but Stillwater has been addressing these other areas as well. This is something that will help her throughout her life.
- Another major difference is the important role of the peers. The staff at Stillwater Academy believes that students will usually listen to their peers before they do adults and so Stillwater expects the students to become peer leaders. It is working!!! The students hold each other accountable but in a very positive way. Instead of just reporting on each other (which was very prevalent at the other school), they constantly remind each other of the various rules when they are not being followed. Only if the behavior doesn’t change will it get written up by a peer and a counselor will step in. Although there was talk at my daughter’s other boarding school of peer leaders, what little I saw was definitely not positive. I only saw a few students report bad behaviors to the staff who would in turn handle the situation and usually through some form of punishment, such as depriving the student of something or having them do manual labor.
- Additionally, unlike the campus environment which lends itself to a lot of unmonitored activity among the students, Stillwater Academy has created an approach where there isn’t the opportunity for the students to be alone. This applies not only during the day but at night as well.
- Host Families – Stillwater Academy is unusual because the students stay with host families at night. There they make their lunch and dinner for the next day, shower and do their own laundry nightly before going to bed. On Saturday afternoons and Sundays, they participate in the activities of the family. One of the things about the host family situation that I especially like is that it really allows the student to work themselves back into a positive family environment.
- Therapy: The therapy is outstanding. At the four schools we visited, there were only a few hours of therapy a week. At Stillwater Academy, there is both large group (involving all of the students) and small group therapy every day. Each student is assigned a primary counselor who runs their small group. There are also weekly meetings involving the parents as well. For us out-of-state parents, we attend via video conferencing.
- Autobiography / Family Importance and Involvement: My daughter’s first school had the students work for two years on an “autobiography” which included everything form the time they were born. Stillwater is very different. They also require the students to prepare an autobiography; however, it is focused on just those things that are causing the emotional turmoil inside. It is something that the students do as soon as they are ready (anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months). They first share the autobiography with their peers and Stillwater staff and then they share it with their parents. It is the time they must come face to face not only with themselves, but first with their peers and finally with their parents. During an autobiography, the student relates all details of the behavior which led them to be in a treatment program. This is the first step in rebuilding the relationship with their family.
- None of the other programs we looked into emphasized the rebuilding of the family like Stillwater Academy, nor did any of the other programs work with the families regularly. Yes, there was the occasional workshop and weekly phone calls, but the staff at Stillwater work with the families much more. There are weekly family meetings which I mentioned earlier. In addition, they help the parents improve their parenting skills, work on any issues they may have, and help them establish a better and healthier relationship with their son or daughter.
As an aside, my daughter is probably not much different from the children of anyone reading this. Due to her choices, I puller her out of the 9th grade in the middle of the night and had her escorted to a wilderness program, because I could no longer keep her safe. She attended a wilderness program for six and a half weeks before going off to boarding school. I am more than happy to talk with any parents, as we have certainly experienced a lot over the past nine months. Other than our mistake with the campus style boarding school with dorms, the wilderness program set my daughter going on the right track and Stillwater Academy is now teaching her the tools she needs to have a successful and happy life.
Housing, The Best Part of the Program
Our year with Stillwater Academy is best described as finding “The Oasis in the Desert” We, like most parents, had done all we knew how to help our son. Yet every time we turned around we were facing another crisis. We had been over and over everything, had him in for classes and counseling and till he seemed to be spiraling lower and lower. (Of course he saw no problem other than us.)Read More
We were at our wits and tried everything we knew. We feared for his safety and others. We knew we had to do something and then a wise counselor suggested we start looking at some of the programs that were offered for troubled teens
. With much prayer, we felt we were guided here. Some of the reasons we liked this one over other programs are: They handled a smaller group. Some had 200 clients and Stillwater seemed to have around 50. We really liked the staff that we met. We felt they really loved the kids and knew how to help these kids. Also the cost was more affordable and yet they seemed to offer as much as the other places. (Sports were more available elsewhere, but our son wasn’t into sports.) Our first concerns were over housing the kids’ everyday and how that would change our life style, and having school in the afternoon when they weren’t as fresh as in the morning. (That was just a personal preference.) The housing, which was our biggest concern, ended up being the best part of the program for training us to be better parents and learning how to communicate with these kids. It’s the night after night practicing that you do that helps you break old habits and start new ones. Other than the huge time commitment, it was very rewarding. The kids became our friends and we started caring about them like our own as we shared experiences and worked together. You build closeness that you can’t get any other way. The schooling turned out wonderful. The teachers are all great and love being there. They say it’s better than public school because these kids have been taught to be respectful and they are here to learn. Most of the kids are getting better grades than they have ever had because of their attitude change and the small group instruction from teachers that care. I learned that the time of day doesn’t really matter. As we better understood how things worked and as we watched the counselors work in parent group with us and our kids we were astounded. We got behind the staff and gave them 100% of our support. They made us feel like a team. Not us against our kids, but working together for the good of all of us. They answered all of our questions, they were there for support and I feel they spent overtime loving and helping our whole family. They helped us get parent support from other parents in the program and they spent time showing our other children around and explaining how things worked. They taught parenting classes and gave us individual as well as group time working things out. They have the training and expertise to help us work through the down deep stuff and they have the craziest ideas that work so well with the kids and really help them understand. It always amazes me how they come up with these great ideas that are personalized to help us with our individual struggles. It was so awesome to go to the ranch and learn from the round pen demonstration. I will never forget going to Camp Williams with the kids and watching them work together in problem solving and facing our fears by repelling off high platforms. Playing with the kids is so great. Watching them perform in skits and display their talents, seeing them stretch in good ways was very rewarding. We built a strong bond of friendship with the parents of the other kids. Our weekly parent group helped us share problems and find solutions on how to take care of ourselves as well as help our kids. Our son has been graduated for about five months and we still come back for support three out of four weeks. We are always made to feel welcomed and loved and they work with us on the different challenges we face being out of the program. It refreshes us on the information we’ve learned. We will be forever working on all the things that would make us a better people. And it’s nice to have friends that understand and encourage us. If our son were to choose to go back to his old ways, I would be able to better handle things. I will never regret the time and money put into this year. It was well spent. I have learned more in one year about myself and my son than I have in the last seventeen years of my life. The lessons are invaluable. Stillwater gave us our life back and helped us improve it. It gave us a year of peace, feeling safe, and time to work on making us our best selves. As I came in I wanted to fix him quick. As I leave I know there is a life time of work ahead and there are no quick fixes. Worthwhile things take time. And no, my son wasn’t the only one that needed fixing. We leave knowing we have the tools to make a better tomorrow.
Our Son is So Happy We Made the Right Choice
It is difficult to put into words the effect you have had on our son. One short year ago, we flew to Salt Lake City to entrust our son to your staff. Although I was apprehensive to leave him, it was a relief not to have to worry about where he was and what he was doing.Read More
At that time our son was deeply troubled, obsessed with marijuana, was caught stealing, was rebellious, and not capable of coping in a positive way with his life. He had little regard for himself let alone anyone else. The final issue that brought us to the decision to enroll him was when he got arrested and told the police officer that he would steal again. There is no question in our mind this was a cry for help. Through your patience, understanding, support and confidence our real son is back. He thrived and successfully completed high school at Stillwater Academy. The small class sizes and experienced teaching staff contributed greatly to his success. In addition, we feel that the housing program at Stillwater Academy allowed Matt to experience a family environment during his stay and was a critical component in matt’s success. Your leadership program helped our son regain his confidence and will to live life to its fullest. The friendships he made were some of the first of many friends to come. He has wisely chosen not to see any of his old friends and is working hard at establishing new healthy relationships. He is attending the junior college and getting close to land a part time job at the YMCA. He is attending AA meetings, and Community Church functions on a regular basis, and building a strong foundation of new friends that are appropriate. We could not be more pleased or more grateful. P.S. After two short months in the program he told us, “I wish my old friends had the opportunity to be in a program like this.” Sincerely yours,
Bob & Gigi
Thank You from a Psychologist
I am writing to thank you for your work and the work for your program over this past year with Erik. The dramatic and significant improvement in his functioning, attitude and general behavior has been most gratifying.Read More
As you are aware, Erik is a young man that I had worked with for a number of years with minimal change observed. He was referred into your program due to our increasing concerns about his progression towards an anti-social way of life. Erik is now attending high school, playing on the football team and has become an exceptional young man. Erik is but one of probably two dozen youth I have referred to your program over the past few years. I cannot honestly remember any one of the adolescents I have referred not benefiting from participating in your program. Thank-you again for the quality of service you provide for very complex youth and stressed families. Author and Co-Author of more than 15 books including “Raising Resilient Children”, “Learning Disabilities and Challenging Behaviors”, & “Practioners Guide to Managing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Children”.\ Best regards,
Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.
Stillwater Academy – Education and Inspiration
Stillwater Academy is the best school I have ever seen. My daughter came to the school the summer of 2000 with a 0.16 GPA. She should have been in her junior year, but according to her credits, she was a little over half way through her freshman year. Tammy had sloughed her way through the last half of her freshman and sophomore year.Read More
We tried everything. I talked to her teachers, counselors and the principal, tracked her attendance and assignments on the school’s computer system, and drove her to school every day. We even let her go live with her sister so she could attend a different school, but nothing we said or did worked. I was at the school more than she was. The school was not concerned because Tammy was attending at least once class a week. They told me that one-third of the sophomore class was in as bad or worse condition. In January of her sophomore year, Tammy stopped going to school completely. A couple of months later, she ran away to Arizona with her boyfriend. When we found her, six weeks later, we put her in Stillwater Academy. One of the things I liked about Stillwater was that they would work with Tammy to help her catch up with her schoolwork. I never expected the dramatic turnaround which I saw. Stillwater Academy got approval from the School District for Tammy to attend under the home and hospital program. At this time, Tammy’s self esteem was at an all time low. She was sure she would never be able to keep up, let alone catch up. Math was especially hard for her. Tammy had taken pre-algebra twice already and didn’t make it through either class. I can’t say enough about the wonderful teachers at Stillwater Academy. The classes are small and the teachers are so concerned and willing to work with each one of the kids. They schedule classes, as much as possible, according to which classes the kids need to graduate. Tammy signed up for Algebra 1. Her teacher soon realized that Tammy knew most of it, so she requested Tammy be moved to Algebra 2. The teacher worked individually with Tammy whenever the class covered things she had not had before. Tammy ended up with “A” out of the class. Another teacher who really inspired Tammy was her art teacher. Tammy has always liked to draw, but this teacher showed her so many new avenues to expand her artistic talents. Every one of the teachers is wonderful. Through their kindness, patience, and encouragement, Tammy has achieved what we though would be impossible. During the year and a half Tammy went to Stillwater Academy, she was able to catch up and complete her junior year. She brought her GPA up to a 3.81. Tammy started at a regular high school this fall and will be able to easily graduate with her class in June. She is planning to attend college next fall. Tammy started with the lowest GPA in Stillwater Academy’s history and graduated with the third highest GPA. She is the most improved student, and she enjoyed every minute of her school experience at Stillwater Academy. We never dreamed this would be possible. I am so thankful for this school and the inspiration they gave Tammy.
Stan and Jeannine
Thanked Me Several Times for Putting Him in This Program
My son had a history of failing grades. He had very few credits toward graduation and was unable to participate in high school sports, which was always a big part of his life. Because of his poor school performance, other behavior problems and poor choices, I made the decision to put him in Stillwater Academy.Read More
During the past school year, his GPA climbed steadily from a .05 to a 3.3. He finished summer school with a 3.5, making the honor roll for the first time in his life. He sees himself graduating, and though he is still in the Stillwater Academy program, he is able to play football for his old high school. The teachers and staff at Stillwater Academy have helped him meet his own individual needs, and he has thanked me several times for putting him in this program. I am very happy and impressed with the program and really glad I did it. Some people feel they can’t afford this program, but I felt I couldn’t afford not to get him the help he needed, even as a single parent. It saved my son’s life and has changed mine. Thank you Stillwater Academy!
Stillwater Academy Saved Me and My Daughter
It has been six months since our daughter graduated from Stillwater Academy. The reason we decided on Stillwater was physical and emotional exhaustion. Our daughter was caught shoplifting with $195.00 worth of merchandise in her purse.Read More
She has suffered from depression
since the age of twelve, been on anti-depressants and had counseling. She tried to commit suicide at least two times. She was skipping school, missing curfew, running away and drinking became her past time. She became so intoxicated one night that she passed out and during this time she was physically violated. We were at our wits end! After a lot of prayer, I was at work one day and a Social Worker asked if I had ever heard of Stillwater Academy. After talking with her, I called Lee Caldwell, Executive Director at Stillwater Academy. Our daughter was at that time in DT and Lee and his staff agreed to go there and pick her up. This was the most difficult thing we had ever done, but it truly saved all our lives! I cannot say enough about this program. The kids are involved from sunup to sundown: group therapy sessions, one-on-one counseling, family counseling, school, etc. But our daughter was not the only one learning, we were too. The blessing of the program is you all get fixed! I am a codependent mother, who never allowed my daughter to have a relationship with her father. The best part of the program was housing, where you bring children from the program into your home. By doing this you are able to practice the things you learn first on other children. Then, when your child earns the opportunity to come home you are ready to face them. Our daughter truly had run our home. She had controlled and manipulated everything and I was afraid to say “NO” to her. What has this program done for her: Our daughter found her Higher Power, which they must do to succeed! She now goes to church regularly, participates willingly and has leadership positions in the young women’s program. She prays and reads her scriptures daily. She attends AA meetings and is living the twelve-step program. She graduated a year early from high school, received a scholarship and is going to Dixie College. She made amends to all the stores she has shoplifted from. She has held down two summer jobs and was voted best employee at one of them. She is independent and has taken control of her life. She does not blame anyone for her mistakes and solves her own problems. She respects our family and has kept the contract she had written in Stillwater Academy before she was allowed to come home. She is happy, she has hope and she is a joy to be around. What has this program done for her mother: It has saved my life! I have been freed from the bonds of codependency and feel like I have been born again. I can tell my daughter “NO.” I don’t have to be involved in her relationship with her father and siblings. I can trust that she will make the right decisions and if she doesn’t, “Oh well.” I can take care of myself and let others take care of themselves. The time spent in Stillwater Academy is difficult and requires everyone to participate. It is not a perfect program and the cost is scary, but what is the price for saving a soul? I would do it all again! There are no guarantees and our daughter did not come out of the program perfect, but she has the tools she will need for the rest of her life to solve any of her problems. So, if you are willing, the journey is worth it! God bless,
“Mom, thank you for giving me my life back
I would like to tell you a story, a story about an angry young man that lived in my home for just shy of 16 years. A young man who tore our home apart, both physically and emotionally. A young man who walked a path of self-loathing and self-destruction for just shy of 16 years. A young man who I loved with all my heart for over 16 years, because from the time I knew he was to be, I loved him. That young man was my son, Tom.Read More
Tom was born with what was diagnosed at 5 years old as moderate to strong severity of ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. He was later to be diagnosed with a conduct disorder
that suggested “problems more severe than those seen in Oppositional Defiant Disorder.” Tom was also reported to be high risk for anti-social or borderline personality disorder
. Tom lacked socially appropriate skills in his dealings with family, friends, teachers and all other manner of persons he came into contact with. Tom had seen psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, private counselors, school counselors, you name it, we tried them all. Because, you see, I loved my son. Just three months before his fifteenth birthday, Tom put his fist through a door at our home. Tom was out of control, and we were of ideas. Now, I want to tell you “the rest of the story.” At the recommendation of Tom’s psychologist, my husband and I looked into a juvenile treatment center called Stillwater Academy. We faxed in all the information to see if Stillwater would accept Tom into their program. Then came the hard part, we had to tell our son. We called him into the room. I sat down with tears streaming down my face and told him what his doctor’s recommendation was. My son’s reply was, “Mom, I need help. I can’t do this anymore by myself.” We delivered him to Stillwater Academy the following day. I cried all the way down there, I cried all the rest of the day, I cried all the way home, and I cried for the next three months. I still cry when I think about it, but now my tears are for a different reason. When my son left Stillwater Academy after 19 months, they called him their “little miracle.” I had already been warned by Tom’s doctor that there was a possibility that I may have to institutionalize my son for the rest of his life. When Tom “cradled” and left Stillwater, he said to me, “Mom, thank you for giving me my life back.” He then said, “If I hadn’t gone to Stillwater, I know I would be in the Criminal Justice System right now.” My son is now 19 years old. Tom now walks a path of promise, the promise of a bright future. A future that will allow him to utilize the other part of his doctor’s early diagnosis, that of “a child functioning in the very superior range of intellectual skill.” During Tom’s time at Stillwater Academy he wrote: I feel my family near me, and reach toward the sky, No star I dare to reach for, could ever be too high. My legs begin to quiver; I start to feel the pain, I let my family slip away, for quick but petty gains. My eyes are slowly opening; I’m blinded by the light, Without my family by my side, I’m sure to lose the fight. Stillwater Academy did open Tom’s eyes, and I know the family that he speaks of is not just his immediate family, but also his Stillwater family. He still visits Stillwater Academy and spends time with his Stillwater family. They are always there by his side whenever he turns to them. Tom was able to graduate from high school and is now looking at enlisting in the Air Force. His final destination; to be a pharmacist. And we have no doubt he will achieve it. But, the story doesn’t end here. Tom was not the only that was able to benefit from our Stillwater Academy experience. During the time Tom was there, my husband and I attended parenting classes. It’s no use fixing an airplane, and then expect it to make a smooth landing in the dense jungle. Tom had a fixation with being in “control” of everyone and everything, all the time. Tom was not alone. I also felt that I needed to control every aspect of my life as well as everyone else’s. When Tom and I got together, it was always a war zone..where only the strongest survive. Stillwater Academy taught me how to avoid these confrontations, how to walk away, how to empower my children to make their own decisions, because you see, I have another teenager that fits into this picture. Now, when my daughter Christina (age 15 going on 21) wants to do something that I don’t approve of, I don’t say “No” anymore. What I do say is, “What do you think? The decision is up to you, but these are the consequences of doing that. You have to decide whether you can live with those consequences or not.” Stillwater made me remember what I felt when my parents told me “No,” and as a result, my daughter and I have a wonderful relationship. Christina comes to me with her problems, her concerns, her dreams, because she knows that I trust her judgment and believe in her, and she knows that she will be empowered to do what she knows in her heart is right. Thank you, Stillwater Academy; you gave me back my family.
At Stillwater Academy I Learned Who I Am
I was awakened one morning by two strange women at about 6:30 a.m. This time of morning was closer to my bedtime than anything else. I remember hearing, “You’re in a program now”. How? I never thought my parents would do it. I screamed and cried. I knew my life would never be the same. Read More
I was in a program, I didn’t know where I was, I didn’t know what to do, all I knew was that I couldn’t possibly miss out on all the weekend parties. I was seventeen years old and my life revolved around being drunk. The months in Stillwater Academy passed by slowly as I counted down the days to my eighteenth birthday. Every once in awhile *I would make a little bit of effort to move up in my program, but at this point I was not about to sacrifice my old life for anything. Then something happened. People in Stillwater were getting busted left and right for breaking the rules. I knew I was busted too. I wanted to run, but I knew there was nowhere to run. I remember offering the first selfless prayer, “Help us find strength”. The next day in group therapy one of the staff members began to cry. I wanted to care and I tried to force the tears to come, but I tried to force the tears to come, but I couldn’t. Artificial, I wasn’t real! I realized that day that I had no idea how I felt, I had no idea who I was. Then one of the first truly honest things left my mouth, “I don’t know how I feel”. My primary counselor lovingly agreed. “Why hasn’t she given up on us?” I wondered. That day I made a commitment to change no matter what I had to do. As the ordeal began to subside I found myself trying to do the right things and sometimes it scared me. I thought that being oblivious was as happy as life could get. Slowly, with a lot of effort, I began to see things more clearly. I turned eighteen and stayed in Stillwater Academy until I cradled (graduated). After I got out I stayed sober, but a times the cravings to use were emotionally agonizing. I did the things Stillwater taught me to do. I went to AA meetings and did all the things they told me to do. Today I am free. I can face my problems with the support of my family and my Higher Power. I’m grateful my parents put me in Stillwater. I was so far gone I don’t know if I would have ever sobered up on my own.
Nothing Short of a Miracle
We have been involved with the Stillwater Academy program since January 2000. Our son, Andy, was sent to Stillwater Academy as a last resort. He was lying, stealing, sneaking out at night, sleeping all day, etc. His attitude was terrible. He was continually disrespectful to us. He had dropped out of school, was in trouble with the law, and was generally headed for a calamity in his life. Read More
We felt the need to intervene, but everything we tried proved to be ineffective. We tried love, kindness, bribery, threats, and counseling. Nothing helped. His friends were the most important influence in his life, and we just couldn’t compete. He was determined to live his life the way he wanted, and if we tried to interfere, he would just run away for a few days or a week. We felt powerless. We learned about Stillwater Academy from a story on the evening news. Our family doctor also recommended the program. We had investigated several other programs in the Valley, but as soon as we met Lee Caldwell, the director of Stillwater Academy, we knew this was the place for our son. Andy was in Stillwater Academy for 14 months. It seemed like a long journey, but the end result was very much worth the effort and expense. Andy is now getting ready to graduate form high school; he has a job, good friends, a great attitude and, most of all, a future. You would have to see and talk to him for yourself to understand the growth that he has undergone. It is nothing short of a miracle. There are many things we liked about Stillwater Academy. Too many to list them all, but we will mention a few highlights: We decided that in order for Andy to change, it would take two things. We had to get him out of “his” environment, and it had to be something that would turn his world upside down. Stillwater Academy accomplished both things. The directors cam and picked him up at our home one morning. He was surprised and stunned and went without any trouble. From the first day, the structure of Stillwater Academy began to work for his good. It was two weeks before we saw Andy again. Even then, he had to earn the privilege of speaking to us or even looking at us in parent group. He was not allowed to come back home until he earned the right. It took him two months. This period was important, because it allowed us to see how sick the whole family had become due to Andy’s behavior. We all needed the time to decompress and heal. Getting Andy out of the house to a safe, structured place was a real blessing. The kids in the program hold each other accountable. Andy could lie to us and make us believe what he said, because we just didn’t understand the craving culture. However, he could never lie to the kids in the program, because they have all been where he was. They called him to account at every turn. It wasn’t long before he realized he couldn’t bluff his way through. It’s very hard for a child to go against the crowd when they are all working hard to do the right thing. Peer pressure was finally being applied in a positive way. Stillwater Academy parents take groups of kids into their homes several nights each month. This helps the kids to see how other families work. It also gives parents a change to practice their newly learned parenting skills on other kids in the preparation for when their own child comes home again. Housing the kids was one of the best things about the program. We got close to many of them, learned their stories and came to love them almost as our own. Stillwater Academy parents are required to go to a group counseling session once each week. We gained strength and comfort from sharing with the others in our group. We gained many friends in the program. Some because of our common experience and some because of their strengths or weaknesses. These are some of our most cherished relationships. We got to know them and their kids intimately. We cheered when their kids were doing well, and we comforted each other when they weren’t. The staff at Stillwater Academy is excellent. Each child is assigned to the particular staff member best able to understand and help him/her. However, the entire staff cares a great deal about each child, whether that child is in their particular group or not. The staff is always available for consultations. Dr. Mark Hinckley, the clinical director, is an absolute genius. His background and down-to-earth style make him particularly effective in dealing with the kids. All of the children as well as the parents have great respect for him. The Stillwater Academy School is one of the best things about the program. The administrators are very knowledgeable and competent. They work with each child individually to set up the educational program which best fits their particular needs. There are only five or six students to each teacher, so every student can get all the individual attention he/she needs. I don’t know if Andy’s experience is typical, but because of the Stillwater Academy School, he will graduate a full year ahead of the rest of the kids in his old high school. This has been a tremendous source of pride and satisfaction to him. Working at the Stillwater Academy Ranch taught Andy that he is competent, and that hard work not only gives you a sense of self worth and satisfaction, but that it can also be mixed with fun. He learned many lessons in life at the ranch. It didn’t take too many times getting an unwilling colt out of the rain and into the barn before he began to see the parallels in real life. The rewards of hard work are self-evident. We could go on and on about our Stillwater Academy experience. A lot can happen in 14 months. However, none of the above things would mean much if it weren’t for the final result. We now have our son back. He’s grown beyond his years emotionally. He now sees a totally different picture of himself than he did when he entered the program. Like we said before, we were pretty hopeless when he entered Stillwater Academy. But, knowing what we know now, we’d do it again in a heartbeat. The results were well worth the effort, pain, and expense. We invite any parent considering Sillwater Academy for their child to call either of us. We will gladly talk to anyone freely and honestly. We highly recommend the program.
Marty and Becky