The Wayne County Outlook

Features

October 2, 2012

Construction begins on new chapel at Otter Creek Academy

10-3-12 —     Otter Creek Academy is growing and it's evident when you visit the  beautiful, rural campus located at the end of the Old Bethel Church  Road. Construction of a  new chapel and an additional administrative  building is near completion.

    Inside the doors are success stories that make staff members at the  girls' treatment facility proud. Many of the girls who have come  through the facility in the two and a half years since it has opened  have completed their high school education, have learned about being  

more responsible citizens in this world and have successfully  transitioned back into life. They have made the most of the  opportunities that Otter Creek Academy has provided for them.

    Otter Creek Academy is a unique facility, according to Mary Davis,  who is executive director of the facility. It provides services to a  very underserved population—girls.

    "There are very few facilities like this for girls...It's a  

specialized population and there are not a lot of places for them to  go," said Davis, as she talked about the facility.

    Otter Creek Academy is a residential treatment facility, and is very  different than a lockdown facility. It serves girls who are ages 13  to 18, and they are monitored by staff 24 hours a day, seven days a  

week.

    Many of the girls who come to Otter Creek have emotional and  behavioral problems and for many this will be their 10th to 12th  different placement.

    The facility houses about 30 girls and can house as many as 36 at a  time. A staff of 48 work with the residents to help affect change in  their lives, and that occurs in a number of different ways.

    The most evident is through treatment, behavior modification and  education. During the school year, the Wayne County School District  provides teachers who work at Otter Creek and provide classroom  

instruction to the girls.

    There are a total of five teachers on staff, including a special  education teacher. Class sizes are small, according to Davis. Classes  

begin early each day, at about 7 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m.

    After school concludes for the day, afternoons include a number of  activities like group therapy sessions or individual counseling  sessions. Each resident gets individual services every week,  according to Davis.

    This is also the time when girls get in some physical activity and  recreation.

    When school is not in session, more special activities are planned  for the girls, including some field trips. While at Otter Creek  Academy, the girls learn valuable lessons about giving back, and each  cottage within the facility has a project they participate in. For  

example, one of the groups crochets items for an abuse shelter. They  are also involved in recycling.

    "We try to teach them responsibility," said Davis.

    Weekends at Otter Creek Academy are not as structured. There is  usually a movie night on the weekend, and girls also are busy with  cleaning chores in their cottages.

    On Sunday, a spiritual group meets and all girls are provided with  that opportunity. Davis believes the addition of the chapel to the  campus will add another component to the spiritual program. Someone  visits the campus and conducts a service on Wednesday night, but she  feels that will expand to include a Sunday service as well.

    The new administration building will include offices for sessions,  as well as a conference room for staff meetings. Davis is very  appreciative of the 48 staff members at Otter Creek Academy, noting  

they are some of the best she has ever worked with. She credits their  hard work with the success at Otter Creek Academy.

    The facility is a sister to Foothills Academy in Albany, Kentucky.  Jeff Choate, who is CEO for Foothills saw a need for a facility for  girls. Davis was serving as treatment director at Foothills Academy  

and has been involved in the Otter Creek Academy project since the  beginning.

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