What is Serenity Academy Chicago?

The goal of Serenity Academy Chicago (SAC) is to provide youth with a high-quality high school education in a safe, supportive environment that promotes sustained recovery for life.

SAC Board of Directors established a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2015.  SAC will be a private secondary school following the Illinois State guidelines for accreditation, length of school year/days, curriculum, teacher certification, record keeping/reports, health and safety, transportation, textbooks, testing, special education, and other stipulations of the Illinois Board of Education.  It will be centrally located in the Chicago Loop, easily accessible from all the city’s neighborhoods and suburbs via public transportation.

Why is there a need for Serenity Academy Chicago?

Serenity Academy Chicago recognizes that many teens in early recovery attend high schools with unsafe environments, where drugs are used, kept, or sold.  In addition there are high relapse rates for teens, post-treatment, when they return to their previous schools.

Factors leading to poor outcomes include substance use within the family, low commitment to school, favorable attitudes towards substance use, and a peer culture in which substance use is the norm.  Social pressure to use, and exposure to substance-using peers are the strongest predictors of adolescent relapse.

Serenity Academy Chicago is designed specifically to provide support and improve outcomes.

Risk of relapse is highest for youth, directly following treatment.  Therefore, appropriate relapse prevention services during transition to the school setting can increase the likelihood of long-term recovery.  SAC is a recovery high school providing such vital services.  These include recovering peers, positive teachers and mentors, and positive supervision.

Target Population

The target population for SAC consists of adolescents and emerging adults 15-21 years of age, who have not graduated from high school and who meet the DSM-V criteria for substance use disorders.

School Staffing

Staff at SAC will include licensed teachers, clinical staff, peer recovery staff, and those who have experience in recovery.  Because of the intersection of academic performance and the effects of substance abuse, school staff will work closely together to provide a full network of support.  Staff will collaborate in developing students’ educational and recovery plans in order to support success in both.

Scope of Services

Students applying for admission to SAC must meet established diagnostic criteria for substance use disorders, and must have received treatment from a licensed provider OR attended sobriety support group meetings.  Students who meet these criteria will undergo a comprehensive assessment to identify academic history, substance abuse and treatment history, mental health status, family and social supports and/or barriers to maintaining sobriety.

An individualized plan will incorporate short- and long-term goals for academic and recovery success.  In addition SAC will offer coordination of care for students attending an outpatient treatment program or working an aftercare plan.

If students are behind academically, the curriculum is specifically designed to bring them to the level expected for their age.
Tutoring and one-on-one assistance are components of the curriculum.

Recovery Support

Nothing will promote academic growth better than continuing growth in recovery.  SAC’s main goal is to help students pursue healthy, recovering lives with clear visions of their futures.  SAC will address substance abuse disorders with access to certified alcohol and drug counselors and other licensed counselors helping to deal with daily challenges and to provide intensive support.  In addition, peer recovery services, recovery coaches, and active case management are invaluable in maintaining engagement in recovery and reducing relapse, thus leading to long-term sobriety.

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