A vacant Longview building previously used as both a skating rink and a fitness center, will soon become the new home of Quest Academy, a program that supports Cowlitz County students who require a more therapeutic learning environment. A program of Educational Service District 112, Quest Academy will serve students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Students identified for the program will receive support and assistance designed to help them improve their academic and social skills, develop more appropriate behavioral controls and increase self-esteem.
Quest Academy is modeled after a similar program in Evergreen Public Schools called the 49th Street Academy. Students have varying degrees of cognition, but share a common need for behavioral interventions and supports. Certificated special education teachers along with specially trained support staff work closely with students’ schools and families to maximize academic achievement.
ESD 112 Superintendent Tim Merlino and Associate Superintendent of Specialized Services Birth-21, Mary Mertz, worked with the Cowlitz County school superintendents over the past two years to bring the project to fruition.
Susan Barker, Castle Rock School District superintendent, has been a strong proponent of the program and applauded the ESD 112/school district partnership. “We’ve talked about a program like this in Cowlitz County for many years,” said Barker. “I often hear of the ‘planets being in alignment’ and believe it was a similar set of circumstances that allowed us to achieve this long-time dream,” she added.
Kelso Superintendent Glenn Gelbrich agreed. “We are thrilled to be able to provide this level of support for students in Cowlitz County. The setting and program model at the Quest Academy will help ensure greater success for these students,” he added.
ESD 112 is currently recruiting staff for the program and plans to open the Academy by November 1, 2016.