Bonner Academy at the Buckeye Ranch goes in-person fulltime, saying some kids really need it

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While many students are learning virtually or through a hybrid learning model, kids at the Bonner Academy at the Buckeye Ranch have gone full time and in person for a good reason. Many children they serve have experienced trauma. Without face-to-face instruction, they could fall behind in more ways than one.

One mother spoke with NBC4 and said the safest thing for her children is to go to school.

“For me, I was losing my mind. Because I felt like I was running back and forth between computers and refereeing children,” said Michelle Brown. It’s a feeling most parents can relate to this year.

During the stay-at-home order, while Brown found herself in a similar storm as others, it was quite a different boat. “Although they are our kids and we take care of them all of the time, we were not as good at teaching or as good at helping them through their rough moments.”

Michelle has been a foster parent for 8 years and adopted two boys. Both have experienced trauma and have emotional needs. When the stay-at-home order was lifted this year, with safety precautions in place, they were able to go back to in-person learning at the Buckeye Ranch’s Bonner academy.

“It’s a partial hospitalization level of care that provides a combination of academic and mental health treatment in the day setting,” said Amy Gamber, Clinical Manager at The Buckeye Ranch’s Bonner Academies. It’s a lifeline for parents and their kids who already suffer an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and self-control, so, they’ve pushed to stay open.”

Some of the challenges they face with being in an unstable situation, it’s even more important that they have the consistent routine and regular schedules.

Something Brown knows first-hand.

“When they are dealing with trauma and trying to heal from that, it gets in the way of them learning and them having normal interactions because their brain focuses on other things that distract from everything else,” said Brown.

For a parent turned home-school teacher, that’s a steep mountain to climb. Which is why the Bonner Academy is still doing in person learning. So parents like Michelle can find that balance.

“It is really important to work on self-esteem for these kiddos who have special needs. When they have behavior issues and they are being disciplined regularly, you really have to give them that extra love and extra encouragement that they matter and that they have worth.”

Which is why she feels best and is grateful for her kids in school full time. “Everyone deserves to have a good life. A happy life. Be engaged in whatever they love. I really want that for them so we do whatever we can to help our kids get what they need.”

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