To say SRA changed my life is a severe understatement.
Spring Ridge Academy helped give me the extreme
push towards becoming my authentic self again.
I never saw myself as flawed. I never saw myself to be like the “other teenagers” that hit rock bottom. I saw myself as perfect. But, I also found myself suffocating through the life I led. I had extremely unattainable expectations set for myself and an even lower sense of self. I was engulfed by a constant state of anxiety and loomed over by the crippling effects of depression. Like those “other teenagers” I compared myself to, I was lost. I was completely and utterly lost from myself.
I started at Spring Ridge Academy the fall of my sophomore year of high school. At that point I still felt like I didn’t need help, I didn’t need to leave home to grow. I didn’t act out like the others, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t drink. I was fine. Fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. “Fine” pre SRA became my absolute favorite word. The word I gritted through my teeth as I felt the world topple and crumble below me.
To say SRA changed my life is a severe understatement. Spring Ridge Academy helped give me the extreme push towards becoming my authentic self again. To get my liveliness and my spark back. Spring Ridge helped me realize that making mistakes and feeling pain as a human being is inevitable. And once I hunkered down and accepted that fact, I flourished. I interacted and benefitted from so many relationships the campus had in store, and to this day, I still do. I formed relationships at Spring Ridge that would last a lifetime. I wasn’t “fine” anymore…after Spring Ridge I was alive. I was completely and wholly alive. And the most important relationship I formed? It was the relationship with myself. Now I can look in the mirror and see beauty, see worthiness, and continue to believe in myself.
There was a point in my life that I and everyone else around me thought I wouldn’t be alive for another week, let alone make it to college. But now? Now I stand tall at a University I love, and can say with utmost confidence that I, I am a beautiful and worthy young woman who believes in herself.
When she’s having difficulty, she calls me
and tells me honestly how she’s feeling,
and I have learned to be an empathetic listener
and not a lecturing, problem-solving parent.
A Parent’s Perspective
Our daughter still refers to SRA as her home-
as the place where she first learned to feel truly safe.
We feel the same way about SRA.
I traveled far and wide across the country to examine schools after Wilderness and spent two days at my top choices. I spent a lot of time with the students and the staff. Ultimately, it was the spring in the step of the girls I met that made me choose SRA. I kept hearing from the girls how they “loved” their school.
The important distinction for me in choosing SRA over the schools we considered is the extent to which self-worth and transformation from the inside out are the emphasis. This was not a school based on behavior modification, rather the total transformation of the individual, the love of self and compassion for others. And this turned out to be the overarching reality, not lip service.
Because I live part time in Scottsdale, I was often at the school, took part in all of the family therapy, parent trainings, programs for families and visited the school frequently. I became close with a number of my daughter’s friends and witnessed their progress over time, and I got to know almost everyone on the staff from the cook to the therapists and the athletic director to the people who worked the nightshift in the dorms. I learned that each of the staff members goes through the trainings, so personal development is their focus not only for the students, but for themselves, and their contribution is not so much a “job”, as it is a mission of love.
When I reflect on the past, before Wilderness and SRA, and how depression, isolation, anxiety, obsessive relationships, long hours on her computer loomed over my daughter and all of us, ultimately, how she hated life, hated others and hated herself, I am grateful, full of joy and relief. She is loving, happy, funny and enjoys herself. She is working hard in school. She’s in ongoing therapy that she treasures. She loves her new school, she’s developing herself as a dancer and an artist, she has a wide circle of friends, she sets firm boundaries as to interacting with kids at school. She doesn’t spend time with students who engage in dissident behavior or bad attitudes. She has not gone back to her bad choices; we monitor this carefully. Twice, she has “owned up” with us of her own volition, once, when she broke an agreement with us, and once when she broke a rule at the school, and we resolved each of these infractions together as a family. Also, we have learned to set structure, keep our agreements as parents and say “no”, whereas, before, we indulged unhealthy behavior in order to keep connection with her and maintain peace. This all happened at SRA.
Our daughter still refers to SRA as her home, as the place where she first learned to feel truly safe. This doesn’t make us jealous, because we feel the same way about SRA. The school continues to be a home for our family. Already, post graduation, we have turned to the staff to help us through a rough patch at her summer school. Their responses were wise, immediate and pragmatic.
An Alumni’s Perspective
Spring Ridge Academy gave me a firm and unyielding understanding
of the person I am and who I want to be.
Growing up I had a good life. I loved my family, had good friends, and I was a good child overall. As I approached my teens that all began to change. For some reason, I felt I had to rebel in order to live up to the reputation of “Generation X”. Over the next few years I became unruly and uncontrollable. At the age of fifteen, after multiple failed short-term placements, my parents decided it was time to take serious action. On February 13, 1997, I was sent to Spring Ridge Academy in Spring Valley, Arizona. From then on, my life would never be the same.
I arrived at Spring Ridge Academy late on a Thursday night. It was cold as I walked up the steps of the school I would soon call home. In my baggy jeans and sweatshirt, I entered the house that had been converted into a dormitory, kitchen, dining room, and school all in one. The first few weeks there were strange ones. I met other girls from all over the country who had problems and issues in their lives similar to mine. These weeks turned into months, months that changed my life forever. – Excerpted from Kate’s College Essay
February, 2016 marks the 19th Anniversary of my arrival at Spring Ridge Academy. 19 years later I am the Admissions Director. Has the path from my graduation day until now been an easy one? Absolutely not. There have been mistakes and hard times. With milestones and rites of passage, old trauma would resurface. This, however, is life. Change is the only constant. There were certainly times I reverted to old patterns. But I was not the old Kate. Spring Ridge Academy gave me a firm and unyielding understanding of the person I am and who I want to be. Spring Ridge helped me understand that the past only dictates my future if I allow it. There is an awareness in my life, not present before, which allows me to quickly recognize when things are headed off track, with both myself and those around me. There is then choice – the choice to stop, assess and take action.
You see, Spring Ridge offered me many things – self confidence, insight, relationship with family, friendship I had never known, academic success and therapeutic healing. The most significant gifts I received were the understanding of accountability and choice. As I have remained true to myself, these gifts have never wavered. They have allowed me to live a life of integrity and honor. This does not mean I have never made mistakes, never needed to apologize. This means that I am free – free of resentment, free from past hurt, free from crippling fear of the future. When I rely on accountability and choice I am present and whole. I allow people to assist me. I meet and exceed my goals. While Spring Ridge has grown and become better as the world around it has changed, it has remained true to those fundamental gifts. They will free your daughter and your family if you simply let them. I will be forever grateful for Spring Ridge and am blessed beyond words that today I am able to assist other families in finding healing.