One of Minnesota’s few remaining sober schools is expanding its support services for recovering drug addicts from classrooms to chat rooms.
Peers Enjoying a Sober Education (PEASE) Academy, one of four sober schools still operating in a state that was once considered the national model for recovery education, partnered with Minnesota Virtual High School this past semester.
Students and their families from across the state can now use online forums to communicate with chemical dependency counselors and social workers at the Academy’s brick and mortar location in Minneapolis. The Virtual High School provides the online academic curriculum.
“(The Virtual High School) built us a platform where we can provide virtual support to our students regardless of where they live,” said Michael Durchslag, the Executive Director at PEASE, which began operating in 1989 at a time when districts all over Minnesota offered recovery based schools.
But sober schools struggled to maintain sustainable operating systems and enrollments, according to a former director of alcohol and drug abuse at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS).
“One of the challenges over the years with sober schools in Minnesota was finding out how you could make them work in our overall school system,” said Carol Falkowski. “Transportation was a big issue,” she added.
Falkowski, who began offering educational services through her business Drug Abuse Dialogues after retiring from the public sector, said the PEASE online model is “a great step in the right direction” and the “wave of the future” that other districts should explore.
“Kids need all the support they can get,” she said.
The number of children in Minnesota seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction has decreased in recent years, according to a DHS report submitted to the state legislature in 2015.
The most recent Biennial report on Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Minnesota showed more than 3,500 children between ages 8-17 were admitted to treatment centers in 2014, down from nearly 4,400 in 2012.
But Falkowski says seeking treatment at the age is only the beginning.
“Recovery is longer term,” she said.
Preston Grundy, a senior at PEASE, says he initially struggled with recovery after leaving treatment junior year and returning to his former school.
“I immediately went back there and relapsed,” said Grundy, who is scheduled to graduate this June and plans to enroll in a sober college program.
Durchslag, the executive director at the Academy, says any addict will struggle with recovery when they return to the same environment.
“It’s not the school that’s the problem, it’s the peers that they are associated with,” he said.
Durchslag compared it to telling a recovering alcoholic to sit in a bar six hours a day, five days a week and not order a drink.
“In a strange way, that’s what we ask adolescents to do all the time,” he said.
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“I like the school because they provide a lot of support. It is a positive environment and the teachers help me. I checked it out looking for support and did know where to get it and here, everyone gives it. It is easy to fit in.”
“PEASE is a great environment for her to learn and supports the whole recovery program and provides a safe, supportive arena. They have small classes. It is a small school and she wants to go there.”
The whole family joined in as marchers from Pease Academy, the oldest sober education high school in the U.S., took part in the Walk for Recovery at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.
“I am supportive to my son who is in long term recovery. I love PEASE. As a parent new to all of this, it is a challenge. I know I cannot control him and cannot cure him. I want to support him in any way that I can. The have small classes and are supportive of my son. Michael and Rufus are supportive and understanding adults and talk to you as a person, not as an administrator.”
“My wife and I moved to the Twin Cities from northern Minnesota to have a place for our granddaughter to live. Too bad there are not more of these types of schools.”
“PEASE is a safe place for our granddaughter. Whatever we can do to help her is important to us.”
“It is a supportive environment and everything you need is right there. The teachers are really understanding. I am a junior and I love the art class, my favorite.”
Pease Academy Director Michael Durchslag waves to onlookers as he leads the contingent from the sober education high school in the Walk for Recovery at Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.
“It is a safe and supportive environment for my daughter. She moved to Minneapolis to live with my mom and dad and it is a complete change for her. She got out of treatment and really made a commitment. This is what she needed.”
“We love the school and Michael has gone over and above. It is such a good deal.”
“This is a good school for my daughter. I am very happy with the education. It came well recommended.”
Students and family members from Pease Academy joined in the Walk for Recovery at Lake Harriet, led by the director of the oldest sober education high school in the United States.
“I have been there for one month and love how small the school is. It is a family where everyone ‘gets’ recovery and everybody wants you to do the best you can.”
“Everyone comes together and it is a better education system. They help you learn and help with emotions.”
“It is a sober high school with very supportive teachers. I have made some good friends.”
“This school helps my son get the support he needs for a sober life. We need more schools like this one. It is his choice to be there. It holds kids accountable. They are building a community around sobriety.”
Looking for a great Twin Cities sober high school for a student in drug or alcohol addiction recovery? PEASE Academy, a charter high school near the University of Minnesota Minneapolis campus, has a respected twenty five (plus) history of supporting students in recovery with great success.
You can arrange a personal tour and information session with staff any time by calling 612.378.1377. You might also want to check out the school at a PEASE Academy Informational Meeting, where a larger group of staff and students will be there to share experiences and answer questions. You can also download a flyer with the dates right here:
- Saturday, June 13 from 1:00 – 2:30pm
- Monday, June 15 from 7:00-8:30 pm
- Saturday, July 18 from 1:00 – 2:30pm
- Monday, July 20 from 7:00-8:30 pm
- Saturday, August 15 from 1:00 – 2:30pm
- Monday, August 17 from 7:00-8:30 pm
PEASE Academy’s unique combination of in school support and counseling, weekly check-in meetings, a zero tolerance for drug or alcohol use while in the program, and small class-size means students get what they need to get back and stay on track.
If you are interested in reading a great article on PEASE Academy, this MinnPost feature is a great one.
In school support and counseling,
Small classes so students get personal attention they need to help them stay on track
As one of the nation’s first recovery high school, PEASE Academy has a long history of supporting students living with addiction, and trying to graduate and go on to college.
Along with all sorts of supports and resources PEASE provides its students an amazing resource of a peer connection. Students, and staff, understand and support each other—a key ingredient in recovery.
Please read this wonderful MINNPOST article about PEASE. And if you are interested in learning more about PEASE, please visit our website at www.peaseacademy.org/.