I am writing to express my family’s appreciation for The Discovery School. My hope, in writing this letter, is that it can give another family the courage to make the same decision we did. It was the most difficult decision my husband and I had ever made, when we decided to enroll our 16-year-old son in DSV.
Robby had been truant for over a year and no amount of counseling made a difference. We had seen multiple guidance counselors, school psychologists, therapists, social workers, and psychiatrists. Robby had undergone batteries of tests, the results of which were inconclusive – other than to state that they could find nothing “wrong” with him. He was enrolled in two different high schools in a one year period, and finally dropped out to enroll in a GED program at a local college, which he promptly quit.
Robby was defiant in his behavior, starting arguments with us on a daily basis. He was destructive to personal property, smashing his own guitar, bedroom furniture, clothing, flat-screen TV, laptop computer, and numerous cell phones. He was using drugs almost daily, and alcohol, as well. He took little interest in his well-being and hygiene. It wasn’t unusual for him to go 4 days without showering – in Miami. And he weighed about 120 pounds at 5’10”. The choices he made in activities and friends were also destructive. It reached the point where my husband and I took turns sleeping at night. We didn’t know when or if Robby would return home, or with whom, or if we’d have to go find him somewhere.
With the help of a wonderful educational consultant, Gale Saler, we learned about DSV. Our decision was solidified when we had telephone conversations with the staff, who answered countless questions for us. We knew this was the right choice.
When Robby was accepted for enrollment at DSV, we did not tell him he was going. In fact, he knew nothing about any of the arrangements or even that we were considering doing such a thing. We knew there would be no possibility of him going willingly. Our next step was to make arrangements with a transportation escort company to pick him up and transport him to the school. The transport operation worked exactly as described in advance to us, and they delivered Robby to DSV. And, for the first time in a very long time, my husband and I were able to go to sleep at night, knowing that Robby was safe.
The staff of DSV is amazing! These are people who truly cared about Robby and are dedicated to making a profound difference in their students’ lives. While the staff was compassionate, they were unwavering in their commitment to having Robby reach his goal of successful completion of his time at DSV. Robby learned to love school and the pursuit of knowledge, for the first time in his life.
It was a very long time to be separated from your only child. But the transformation we have seen, both during family visits and since he returned home, is nothing less than extraordinary.
Robby will be 18 in January, and will be attending college. He has gone from being a very troubled young man to being the person we knew was “in there.” It’s amazing how many people take time to tell us what a polite and considerate young man he is. He’s not perfect (who is?) – sometimes the clothes end up on the floor. But the personal growth is priceless. We have family discussions where we talk things out; and although we don’t always agree, we can appreciate and honor each other’s thoughts and opinions. If, as parents, we say “no” to a request, Robby will respect it and not take it as a challenge. We are learning to trust his decisions and his choices. He is poised, well spoken and considerate of others. One of the biggest changes we have seen is Robby’s ability to settle himself, or calm himself down. In a situation that would have caused him to act out, you can actually watch him relax, take a deep breath and think before reacting. Remarkable.
I didn’t intend this letter to be so long. But I find myself having to edit my words down to these brief sentences of gratitude. Thank you, DSV, for helping our son to find his way. If my husband or I can help another family make the decision to choose DSV by answering any of their questions on the phone or through emails, it would be our pleasure. Any time, really!
With much appreciation,