PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
The PPC Model is fully integrated into the education program. The education staff are trained in the PPC Model. Each group rotates through their class schedule as a cohesive unit. This organization addresses negative behaviors more successfully because the student is with a small group of peers who are familiar with his/her background, problems, and treatment objectives and are therefore able to help as problems arise. These adverse behaviors are broken into twelve problem labels, including: Low Self-Image, Inconsiderate of Others, Inconsiderate of Self, Authority Problem, Misleads Others, Easily Misled, Aggravates Others, Easily Angered, Stealing, Alcohol or Drug problems, Lying, and Fronting. Each problem label is operationally defined by a general description and five specific descriptors, and utilized to identify problem behaviors and structure discussion for group, individual, and family treatment meetings.
Big Sky Academy also maintains a low student to teacher ratio (no more than 10 students per classroom) with one teacher and a support staff), meaning that each student can receive individualized attention and more active learning time in each class; and the teacher is also able to provide better supervision. Additionally, students within a group are expected to provide assistance to their fellow students in academic problem areas. This method of cooperative learning is well supported by research and is consistent with the PPC model's emphasis on responsibility and helping others. We expect each student to serve a valuable role in helping their fellow peers and recognize that each student will have strengths to offer to his/her group members.
Big Sky Academy education program is accredited through AdvanceED offers the following curriculum: Math, Science, English/Literature, History, Spanish, Art, and Physical Education. Courses are competency-based and credits are issued when competencies are met. Many students are able to make up credits by participating in credit recovery. Additionally, students make take college credits as appropriate. Student courses are determined in accordance with state and district graduation requirements. (See the “Academic Curriculum” section for a complete listing of available coursework)
We simply cannot emphasize enough the extent to which education and treatment goals and methodologies co-mingle in our PPC approach to both treatment and education. This cooperative rather than competitive approach to superordinate goals reflects a true team work primacy and affords a synergistic approach to ubiquitous problems of our youth with executive functioning and underachievement. Indeed, the PPC group process affords consistent opportunities for the experiential learning and practice of organizational skills, short term memory skills, information processing skills, emotional processing skills, compensatory learning skills, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. Students at Big Sky Acadmey are not given an education to reject or accept, but are rather challenged to become learners, helpers, teachers, and problem solvers.
Big Sky Academy operates in adherence to a comprehensive wellness plan that believes that nutrition and fitness are critical aspects of wellness and development for adolescents and are therefore an important part of our therapeutic milieu. Students are served three complete meals per day and an additional evening snack. Meal menus are developed by a certified nutritionist and prepared by a certified and/or appropriately trained and supervised food service professional. Additionally, all students are provided with necessary materials and opportunities for good health and hygiene practices.