"Silver Oak Academy is a residential program that inspires learning, growth and positive change for at-risk and disadvantaged youth. Silver Oak utilizes evidence-based practices and cognitive behavioral approach, and is guided by our belief that each youth has strengths."

Silver Oak Academy opened in 2009. The Keymar, Maryland sleepy country community which surrounds the 65-acre Academy was anxious but welcoming. Silver Oak's predecessor closed following the tragic death of a resident/student several years earlier.

I attended an event at the Academy last evening. Local government officials, residents and other interested citizens gathered to discuss security policies and to receive an update on the status of the program. Community support for the work Director Kevin MacLeod and his staff have been doing was overwhelmingly positive. Stories of the community volunteering at the Academy, attending events, and generally supporting the resident/students at Silver Oak were unabashedly shared.

Kids, teenagers, are placed at Silver Oak Academy because they broke the law. Drugs, assault, petty theft are among the violations. The kids are removed from an environment of obstacles with little to no hope for anything productive into an environment of love, structure, discipline, expectations. It's a difficult learning environment for a very few who are sent elsewhere if behavior becomes an issue but most graduate from the Academy and move on to great opportunities. For example, of 15 recent graduates, 6 were offered college scholarships. Seven students are moving into the Navy SEALS program.

It was exciting to listen to the stories of the neighbors surrounding Silver Oak. They talked about their fondness for the residents/students, their pride in their accomplishments, their joyful support of them as they slowly move forward and embrace community. Living an others-focused life is incredibly rewarding, and the residents/students at Silver Oak Academy are discovering it every day.

Outfluence, LLC, is the developer of "You Are Here . . . now what?" a soft skills and leadership program for middle school and high school students. Contacttraining@outfluence.com or call Kay Betz, MBA, 410.365.0741 for information.


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