Student Progress Report: Living and Learning at Green Chimneys

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September 15, 2015


In February we shared a story about a new resident named “Jerry,” a 7-year-old boy whose challenges included difficulty interpreting language, tone and non-verbal communication, making it hard for him to connect with others in an emotional way. Jerry's initial treatment incorporated equine-assisted therapy (EAT) in a series of 8 or so sessions focusing solely on his interactions with a horse, independent of any other training with the animal.

We’re happy to report that since spring, Jerry’s progress has been steady and there are definite signs of growth. This summer he achieved one major goal and rode a horse for the first time. Soon after, he was inviting his teacher, social worker and others to watch him ride again and again.

In class, Jerry has thrived under the structure and clear expectations of his teacher, Lisa Marino. “Jerry understands that I expect his best because I know he can succeed,” explains Marino. “I’ve watched him develop and grow.” Providing opportunities for Jerry to contribute in class, and even assist another student, has played a part in building confidence as well as social skills. He was paired with a classmate who needed a little extra help. In this one-on-one dynamic, Jerry’s rigidity began to dissipate and his patience grew while helping his classmate with school work. And at recess Jerry learned a valuable lesson from that same classmate: she taught him how to swing on the swings!

Living and learning at Green Chimneys is opening Jerry’s world, one horse ride, one swing and one breakfast shared with a teacher at a time.
While his equine therapy is long over, additional treatment and support remain in the classroom, on the farm and in the dorm. Jerry is enjoying visits to the horse barn, kayak trips and more. And his parents shared great news: now when Jerry goes home for a weekend, he's talking to children on
the playground and initiating peer relationships.

NEWS_Jerry-Follow-Up-2_Sept2015.jpg“We know there’s more work to be done and his progress shows us and Jerry that he’s moving in the right direction towards a successful and happy future,” says social worker Eliza Love. Accepting limits and boundaries, identifying the role he plays in interactions with others and regulating emotions when routine is disrupted are steps in Jerry’s therapeutic journey – all of which will better prepare him for returning home permanently one day.

Jerry began his fall semester at Green Chimneys with a new classroom, and a new teacher. Change can be especially trying for children who struggle with emotional, social and behavioral issues. For Jerry, it may trigger anxiety, confusion or frustration, but Jerry’s team of teachers, clinicians and other Green Chimneys staff know just that, and they’re equipped to help him, and our 200+ students, ease into the transition of a new school year.

Children who live at Green Chimneys as part of our residential treatment program also attend our therapeutic day school. Learn more about our approach to special education >

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