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The experience of every student at the O-School is personal and unique. The O-School is proud to share these comments from former and current students and their parents and families, as well as from O-School staff and professional accreditors.

Comments from O-School Students

When I walked through the Yellow Door, I never thought I’d make it to 18. I was completely done and ready to give in. But when I walked through that door, something magical happened. I became loved in a way everyone deserves. Suddenly, I mattered. I had a greater purpose. I finally had a family.

I still struggled, but I came out the other side as a better, braver person. I couldn’t be happier. I’m learning to like myself. Something I never even dared dream of in case I failed. I want to thank you all because you believed in me. You saw past the shell of a person I was and saw who I could become. Even through my lowest points, you pushed me to become the person you all knew I could be. I know I didn’t leave the O-School alone. Each of you were with me.

Thank you for giving me a second chance at life.

– O-School Alumnus

I benefitted by now being able to live on my own and manage my anxiety much better than I used to. The O-School helped me to be independent and a strong person.

– O-School Alumnus

The O-School gave me a safe home when I needed one and provided extraordinary people who supported me through my time there and cared much more than I could’ve ever imagined.

– O-School Alumnus

Through the supports provided by the O-School, I learned how to think clearly for myself and make my own decisions. I also learned how to deal with stressful situations, build healthier and more realistic relationships, and function as part of a community. I wouldn’t have had those skills if I hadn’t gone to the O-School.

– O-School Alumnus

So much of my adolescence was eclipsed by mental illness. The O-School gave me a safe place to find my true self and heal.

– O-School Alumnus

Comments from O-School Families

Our family was at the point where we felt limited, powerless and frightened that our son would not find a program which could support him therapeutically and engage him academically.

From the beginning, the O-School made us feel we were not alone and supported our family goal of educating and treating our son, as well as helping us change our family dynamic. Everyone from administrators, therapists and teachers truly put children in the fore of all decisions made. We saw kindness, competence and compassion when dealing with everyone in the organization. Our son was challenged academically by caring teachers and supported by expert therapists on a daily basis.

The experience at the O-School has given our son the confidence and tools to grow and flourish as he begins the next chapter in his life.

– O-School Parent

Two years ago, I felt the sky was falling, and I almost gave up. But after two years, with the O-School’s help and encouragement, our son is a totally different young man. In these two years, there were so many mines, steps and hurdles for him to cross to reach who he is today. Every step was fulfilled with the O-School staff’s passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated work. I highly admire the O-School.

– Former O-School Parent

I could not be happier with the level of services and support we received from the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School. My child graduates from this program as a changed and better person.

As a parent, what stands out the most is the quality and quantity of communications. Throughout the school year, I received constant communications from therapeutic, psychiatric and educational staff. On top of this, the school provides opportunities for the entire family unit to be involved. Siblings are frequently invited to extra-curricular activities allowing the entire family to grow together.

I am deeply grateful and forever thankful to the staff at the O-School.

– Former O-School Parent

The O-School was exactly the right place for our daughter. She was declining emotionally and academically every year at her therapeutic day school. The O-School was a dramatically better experience. She is now graduating high school and just shines! Her maturity, intellect and coping skills are impressive, thanks to the right environment and professional staff. The O-School made the difference, and now she is thriving.

– Former O-School Parent

We entered the Yellow Door with our lives shattered. The Orthogenic School administrators, teachers, therapists, doctors, nurses, doormen and janitors gave us hope, a safe place to begin to unravel this journey.

You were there as we knelt and cried, eager to offer hugs and Kleenex as we patiently learned. In the rawness of our souls, we were challenged to search deep for ways to grow and change. In a world of convenience, we wanted a quick result. You encouraged us to be patient and held our hands during the journey. Daily you poured unconditional love into our child, teaching, training, guiding, mentoring.

We leave today with what you taught us, pointing us in a direction for continued healing. Our family will be forever indebted to you for your knowledge, your compassion, and mostly, for your love that you generously shared.

– Former O-School Parent

Your influence, compassion and understanding have helped our son develop into the young adult he is today. He has had the pleasure of working with several devoted staff members, and he has experienced the dedication and perseverance of these professionals, who have not once given up on him — even through the most difficult of times.

To say that the O-School has changed our lives would be an understatement. We will forever be grateful.

– Former O-School Parent

Our experience at the O-School has been incredible. The teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, nurses and coach care so much and are clearly well trained.

For us, the O-School knit together therapeutic intervention with necessary, practical, everyday routine. I’m grateful for the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, the two-day boot camp. No theoretical, fluffy psychobabble here. This was all practical, useful, IN THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT strategies for de-escalating a crisis. We still refer to the workbooks. In the end, we love this community and hate to leave, but feel prepared for the next chapter.

– Former O-School Parent

Comments from O-School Staff

I think the best thing at the O-School is watching graduations and hearing about the strong relationships students are able to build with the adults around them. The relationships I’ve built with students and families are so meaningful to me and will be with me forever!

– Janine, Staff

One of the things that I love about working at the O-School is the way that students are treated with the utmost dignity and respect. I don’t hear anyone ‘talk down’ to students here. Instead, I hear staff engage students in real conversations and encourage them to pursue their goals.

– Audrey, Hawk’s Counselor

As someone who is motivated by new situations and challenges, it is surprising to me that I have remained at the O-School for almost 17 years. But the synergy of hard work between our staff, the students and their families continues to draw me in — in ways that feel extremely meaningful and life-changing.

– Kristin, Director of Admissions

Comments from Professionals

The children speak highly of their staff, and the parents said this is a gold-standard organization and wished this organization could provide aftercare. This is one of the best RTC (residential treatment center) programs reviewed. The maturity and knowledge demonstrated by the staff in dealing with the children is tremendous. This organization makes a compelling argument for the value of having higher educational standards for the staff.

– Council of Accreditation, Final Report 2015

This focus on individual students and the highly individualized programming is a reason parents choose the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School over other schools, including making the decision to have their child placed out of state to receive needed services.

The strong school leadership and staff support are paramount in creating a culture of felt safety and empowerment for an at-risk student population to benefit from the learning environment.

– AdvancED Peer Review Findings, 2016