I wanted to share my experience at NLA since it was a bit different than what I am seeing and I was more recently at New Leaf Academy Oregon. I was at NLA for about a year and a half. The two people who now own NLA are a very kind couple that really care about the emotional growth of the students. They no longer have the clan or stages system that was there before and now they have a system that helps each girl have their own individualized program. Girls can earn privileges depending on how well they are doing with themselves and others, rather thank how long they have been a student there. The usual consequences (LOs) last for 30 minutes. Most of the time the girls must do physical work like simple cleaning, but sometime they will have to do a written assignment. While doing LOs girls may not communicate with one another and can only ask the staff questions that have to do with the LO given to them. The girls may sing while they work, as long as it is not too loud (I found that very helpful and made the time go by much faster). I ended up having about 10 pages of LOs by the time I completed the program, each page had about 20-30 LOs on it. It was very frustrating to receive LOs at times because you could get them for very pathetic reasons like sleeping on top of your comforter, getting out of bed a minute after when we’re supposed to be up, going in your room without permission, and a very popular one was “not following the morning routine” I never did find out what that meant.
Hours of work were the same sort of think except you got them for bigger reasons like not taking out your rabbit enough times and rough housing. Where as grounding lasted for a week, maybe less, and it wasn’t that bad. All that happens while your grounded is you miss watching the TV show and have to do My Time instead, you can’t go to store or ask for privileges in treatment, and you have to do an hour and a half of physical work (i.e. Cleaning) and another half hour of written work on Saturday and another hour of physical work on Sunday while other girls are at store.
I was put on many spot restrictions which were very frustrating. While on most spot restrictions (hot tub deck, downstairs, admin, café, table, etc) I was not allowed to speak to other student. I felt isolated and very depressed. They would put you on spot restrictions for things like self harm, arguing with a staff, and procrastinating on working on assignments. I felt upset because I could hang out with my friends and I was constantly getting in trouble while I was on the table for things like being late to Last Light when I couldn’t even get up from the spot with adult permission. It was especially frustrating when I was on my café restriction because I would stand there raising my hand for about 10-20 minutes wanting to go to bed until another student would finally tell a staff member that I was trying to ask a question. I was unnoticed most of the time and other student pitied me.
Peer restrictions were also a set back. It felt like every time I got close to somebody, the staff would restrict us because they didn’t want me to have any friends. I noticed not only in my relationships, but in others as well that when good friends would get restricted they would turn on one another and star to hate each other. That made it hard because then one girl wouldn’t want to get off of restriction, while the other one would.
Although there were a lot of negatives about the school there were a lot more positives. PE was fun and it really helped student get into shape. School was taught in a simple way while most students were learning atleast one level above the grade they were actually in. The food was usually really good and we got served proper portions, and before Soccer games we got loaded on carbs. We went on many trips including going to Washington DC, visiting the Oregon Coast, quest (a seven day backpacking trip that is super fun), white water rafting, therapeutic retreat, etc. I personally had so much fun on the trips that I did go on and each time I went it was a completely different experience. Cook and Clean-Up was my personal favorite part about being a student there. Cook lasted for 30 minutes and Clean-Up usually lasted around 15-45 minutes depending on what we are and who was on Clean-Up that week. Both were very fun to do. We would sing, dance, and listen to music as well as get the occasional special treats from the cooks. It definitely didn’t feel like labor.
Each students experince is different and I happened to have one that was both good and bad. NLA is definitely not as bad as it used to be. Anyone who went to NLA NC might remember a staff member named Amber Wyatt (I don’t know if I spelled her last name correctly). She now works as the Program Director at NLA OR and she said that things are much better and completely different now. I really enjoyed my experince overall. I hope I was helpful for anyone curious about what NLA is like now.