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New school looks at managing behaviors
New Rivermont School in Stafford County will help students overcome their emotional and developmental disabilities.
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Date published: 9/6/2012
The Rivermont School opened Tuesday in southern Stafford County, offering help for students with emotional, behavioral, learning and developmental difficulties.
The school, off U.S. 17 in the Celebrate Virginia North development, is Centra Health's ninth campus in Virginia. The nonprofit health care provider started the Rivermont system 25 years ago with its first school in Lynchburg.
The goal of Rivermont is to teach students ages 5 to 22 how to manage their behaviors, according to the health care system's website.
Jenny Oxendine, principal of the new Rivermont school, said that public schools contact them when students are not able to handle the traditional classroom setting.
Paula Dubay, marketing director of the company's mental health services, said that they realized the need in the Fredericksburg area last year with the closing of Snowden Academy, a private day school, which educated children in grades three through 12 who required specialized care because of behavioral issues.
Oxendine said the location off Celebrate Virginia Parkway in Stafford is perfect.
"I love the setting," she said. "It's peaceful, tranquil and there's lots of natural light in the school."
She said that success at the Rivermont School is judged by a student's personal success and his or her ability to transfer back into the regular school system.
"Students who come to us get what they need to return," Oxendine said.
The school, with a capacity for 60 students, will start with eight to 10 students this fall.
"When you stay small you get to know the students and their families," she said.
Rivermont's team includes special-education teachers, mental-health counselors, licensed professional counselors and administrators.
In classrooms, Rivermont pairs special-education teachers with mental health counselors to make sure each student's individualized education plan is followed.
The 10-person staff has been getting the school ready for students.
Ashley Huff, middle school teacher, and Megan Rehberg, mental health counselor for middle schools students, have applied for grants for the Stafford school since August.
"We want to build a playground," Huff said.
She also said that being in a new school has been nice.
"We're making it our own," she said.
Oxendine said she's pleased with the creativity of the teachers and counselors.