The Watson Institute’s Friendship Academy offers students struggling to manage their mental health the therapeutic support to achieve stability in school and at home. For many students, Friendship Academy is a placement in which students can learn coping skills to help them regulate their emotions before transitioning back to their home school district.
Each school year, educators and support staff at Friendship help students work toward reintegration, preparing them to transition to their school district. For one student, Tay’Lor, this transition has been five years in the making.
Tay’Lor’s Beginning at Friendship Academy
When Tay’Lor was younger she earned a reputation, in her words, as being a “bad kid”. She struggled to pay attention and would act out when she was upset or agitated. School was hard for Tay’Lor because she was getting in trouble for her behaviors rather than learning how to manage them.
In fifth grade, Tay’Lor started attending Friendship Academy. It wasn’t all smooth sailing at the beginning but as she grew more comfortable with her team and they got to know her better, she started to learn more about herself and the source of her behaviors.
Progress & Discovery
Tay’Lor learned that she wasn’t a “bad kid” because she had difficulty paying attention. Instead, her team at Friendship taught her tools she could use to focus on school and redirect her attention to the activities that would help her achieve her goals.
At Friendship, students can receive support from a full team of staff with psychiatric, therapeutic, and academic backgrounds. Classroom therapists, social workers, special education teachers, and classroom staff provide students with one-on-one counseling as well as educational support to help them meet school requirements.
Tay’Lor’s team helped her develop a set of coping skills that she can call upon whenever she faces obstacles, not just in school but also at home and in her community. Coping mechanisms such as using humor in negative situations and learning from prior mistakes are a major part of her personal coping toolkit.
You can also ask anyone at Friendship Academy about Tay’Lor’s talents and they’ll all tell you about her gift for spoken word, rapping, and poetry. She uses her gifts to incorporate encouraging messages and positive, hopeful stories into her poetry, which she loves to share with her peers at school.
Tay’Lor’s team has helped her learn to pause and think through the consequences of her actions before reacting to a situation and empowered her to remember that she gets to control her outcomes in life.
Ms. Brenda Sheffey, a Psychiatric Social Worker at Friendship, worked with Tay’Lor for more than three years, offering her support as she found her footing. Ms. Sheffey shared that “Tay’Lor has risen to all challenges. She has a caring heart and reaches out to her peers and encourages them to make good positive choices that will enable them to have success.”
For now, Tay’Lor attends Friendship Academy part-time and her home school district part-time. Gradually, she will transition to full-time attendance at her district. When asked how it feels to say goodbye to Friendship, Tay’Lor shared that she’s excited to be around a new group of students and is eager to see how she handles herself in situations that previously would’ve caused an adverse reaction.
Tay’Lor is armed with her coping skills and the knowledge that her team at Friendship Academy is rooting for her every step of the way!
There are so many good things ahead for me. I’m ready for the change!-Tay’lor
Learn how Friendship Academy provides in-school mental and behavioral health supports for students like Tay’Lor!