May 2012 Graduates: One-Year Follow-up
—From telephone interviews (with parents) conducted by Linda Solomon, MA’s Research and Administrative Assistant, in 2013 a year following the May 2012 graduation.
—total number of graduates = 19
—percentage of families contacted and interviewed = 100%
This report is a first.  For many years we have “struggled”—to use a word that occasionally comes up in these interviews—to gather outcome statistics to describe what happens when MA students graduate from its clinical and academic programs.  You might not think so, but these data have turned out to be difficult to come by.  Sixteen years ago we were too busy addressing immediate pressing problems on campus to call graduates who were by then no longer clamoring for attention.  But in later years we have tried, and repeatedly failed, to connect with anything like all of our alumni families.  Busy clinicians, busy senior leadership, had great difficulty catching up with busy alumni parents and elusive graduates, whose e-mail and phone numbers inevitably changed.  We were thwarted, year after year, despite our good intentions and avid curiosity.    

Not that we failed to hear anecdotal reports.  We received holiday cards with family updates, prep and college graduation announcements (often many years later) with scribbled notes of joy and triumph.  We have welcomed alumni and alumni moms and dads, who have come back to see whether the ranch is still secluded in its quiet valley, just where they remembered it was, and where they find it in dreams.  They came back to share successes with their therapists, team-leaders and teachers, to cheer when “mentees” graduated.   So we often heard from them, or learned of rumors on FaceBook, or got it directly from affected parents, about debacles and tragedies, too.  And of course, given the high stakes, there have been, over the years, some of these to grieve.       

What we have not managed to do, heretofore, was to collect systematic reviews of key outcomes for complete cohorts of MA graduates.  We have been stuck with partial data, which is hard to interpret.  For example our report, “2009 Graduates: One-Year Follow-Up,” had specific numbers, and gives a vivid impression.  But those data summarized interviews with only 65% of the families of that year’s graduates.  Who is to know which outcomes were hidden among those 35% we did never heard back from?  The best outcomes, or the worst? a mix?  only angry parents? parents ashamed of what followed their son’s or daughter’s departure from Montana?  No way to tell for sure.

And so it is with relief and pleasure that we report now on a whole class, a cohort of 19 students who all graduated in May 2012.  Linda Solomon, our Research and Administrative Assistant, e-mailed and then called and interviewed a parent from every family, often both parents.  Perhaps this was the obvious answer: to assign a talented, tactful, gracious person and make it her job, so that she could take the requisite time to connect.  In any case, she has done a comprehensive survey, and will start upon the next cohort after the August 2013 graduation, when those who graduated in August 2012 reach that “one year” mark.  Below, she has summarized the outcome data she collected from the class of May 2012.

Attending School - as of spring semester College - 79% High School - 16% None - 5%
Grades Good - 79% OK - 16% None - 5%
Worked Sometime in Last Year Full Time - 47% Part Time - 47% None - 5%
Family Relations Good - 79% OK - 21% Struggling - 0%
Peer Relations Good - 83% OK - 11% Struggling - 6%
Substance or Alcohol Abuse No Problem - 53% Some Use - 32% Problematic - 16%
Legal Problems No Problem - 84% Some - 16% Problematic - 0%
Transition No Problem - 63% Some - 16% Problematic - 21%
Home Contract No Problem - 47% - Some - 32% Problematic - 21%
General Satisfaction Good - 100% Mixed - 0% Bad Decision - 0%

Addenda:  In her interviews, Linda invariably asked a broad, comprehensive, summary question about that parent’s overall experience with a son or daughter at Montana Academy:  The question was: How do you now feel about your decision to send your son (or daughter) to Montana Academy, and would you make the same decision again?  A select few answers to that question could be misleading—and so she has listed below all of their replies:  

  1. 100% excellent. Best decision ever.
  2. Kept her safe and gave her a chance to be with helpful adults. She learned to appreciate what MA had to offer and appreciate coping skills learned to deal with depression. Gave her a good understanding of who she is and what she needs.
  3. Good, gained valuable skill set, but having hard time implementing it.
  4. Satisfaction is very high. Right choice from every angle for daughter and family. Realized they were stuck in old patterns and needed to do things differently. Realized they were part of the problem.
  5. Within 2 months he loved it and never wanted to leave. Wants to come back and visit. No regrets.
  6. Mom feels good because her son does, her son feels it changed his life in a rapid way. It was a good experience and he learned a lot.
  7. Absolutely a good decision. Did a ton of maturing. Doesn't think they could have done it on their own. Taught them family is something to be valued.
  8. Always been a good decision and continues to be.
  9. Good
  10. 100% recommend to anyone. Saved her life. Best gift I ever gave her. Daughter raves about it.
  11. MA is a great place, but he still struggles.
  12. Lifesaving, best decision ever made. Eternally grateful, best people she has met. Recommends to others. Gave him tools and made good friends.
  13. Good
  14. Absolutely perfect, a lifesaver.
  15. Right decision, very happy. Can't think of a better process to recover.
  16. Very happy, things worked out very well.
  17. Fantastic, best decision ever made.
  18. Clearly great decision. Really helped him. Very beneficial.
  19. Best decision ever. Student feels it gave him a new life. He learned empathy and will work with parents, more considerate.
  20. Very good, believes the school saved him. Ended up being what he needed. Exceeded parents expectations. Appreciated the parent involvement most of all. Believes parents as well as student benefited.
  21. Best decision ever made. Did a 180 degree turn from a kid who had hardly any relationships, no friends, abused drugs,and failing school.
  22. Excellent! Satisfaction very high.
  23. Saved her life. She is going through MA withdrawals. Love and appreciate all. Nothing can replace MA. Recommend to anybody.
  24. Phenomenal and feel very blessed.
  25. Fabulous, best thing we ever did.
  26. Great decision and very good results.
  27. Great decision, outcome is amazing. So far it has worked out very well for him and family. Furthered Growth and maturity. Amazing what he learned. He was ripe for getting the help he needed.

Stay tuned for her next report—from (hopefully) all the families of MA students who graduated in August 2012.  It is our hope that she may manage to reach our graduates, themselves, and add here their own appraisals of their experiences at MA.

August 2012 Graduates: One-Year Follow-Up
2009 Graduates: One-Year Follow-Up

MONTANA ACADEMY 9705 Lost Prairie Road Marion, MT 59925 (P) 406 858 2339 (F) 406 858 2356