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Summit Preparatory School

Therapeutic Boarding School

Summit Preparatory School Program Information

Gender: Coeducational
Ages: 14-17
Grades: 9 to 12
Estimated Enrollment: 75 maximum
Length of Stay:
Program was founded in: 2003
Accreditations: Affiliations:

Summit Preparatory School Contact Information

1605 Danielson Road
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 758-8113
Fax: (406) 758-8150
School Contact: Judy Heleva, MA, Admissions Counselor
Alternative Contact: Rick Johnson, MSW and Jan Johnson, LCSW
Therapy Provided?: Yes

Program Description:

Summit Preparatory School transforms teens’ lives, from stuck to stable, from floundering to flourishing.

Every aspect of our program, from our therapeutic model based on addressing stumbling blocks to maturation to our campus architecture, is designed to meet the needs of each individual student and family. We are a non-profit 501 (C) 3 organization and Child Welfare League of America member, so our focus is on kids, and not the bottom line. Our buildings were designed for healthy supportive supervision of both single gender and coed social interaction. Each student has his or her own Treatment Team, consisting of a therapist, a teacher and houseparents.

Our educational philosophy is based on student-centered learning. Our faculty strives to assess the academic strengths of each student as well as areas where students need to improve. Educational goals are developed with each student to address their unique talents and interests. Teachers strive to instill positive attitudes and perceptions about learning by building strong relationships with their students and challenging them to be active participants in the learning process.

Together, teachers and students at Summit Preparatory School become lifelong learners by pursuing the challenges of learning and enjoying the intrinsic reward of academic accomplishment and success.


Through an eclectic and relationship-based approach, we seek to creatively support adolescents in their inherent desire to learn and grow, to develop supportive and sustaining relationships with peers and family, to identify and ameliorate obstructions to the developmental process, and to assist the formation of an adaptive and positive self-concept, promoting further growth.

We believe that the success of a student in the classroom is predicated upon effective relationships between teachers and students. By providing a challenging academic curriculum in a supportive and patient environment, students can learn new skills and responsible decision-making, understanding that making mistakes, academically and behaviorally, provides the foundation for learning and growth.

Our services address the unique characteristics of each child, their level of development (or maturity), their academic level, their unique learning style and their social context including especially the child's family. Clinical syndromes (including emotional and behavioral problems) and learning deficits receive active treatment not as an end in and of itself, but as a part of the promotion of a student's maturity and success as an individual. We recognize that healthy childhood development requires an environment where dedicated adults provide structure and guidance out of compassion, not clinical sterility.

To these ends Summit Preparatory School provides informed, well-trained professionals to nurture the academic, vocational, social and emotional development of the whole child. Every student is valued and given an opportunity to grow to his/her greatest potential. The school provides a safe, structured environment to re-establish a healthy course of development.

The program at Summit Preparatory School is designed to prepare students for all facets of life, equally emphasizing both scholastic excellence and personal integrity. Students here can expect to be challenged academically, emotionally, and socially as they progress through the program. However, the nature of this challenge continues to evolve as their needs change. Initially, the challenge is to become comfortable with the environment and schedule and begin establishing meaningful relationships with students and staff while also identifying their own personal issues. At this point, students have very few freedoms and privileges, but they also have few responsibilities. This is not because they need to prove that they “deserve” these privileges, but rather that they can successfully manage them while grappling with their emotional and/or academic difficulties. Students are better equipped to identify, accept, and deal with their issues if motivation is maximized and distraction is minimized, and both are achieved by limiting the amount of freedom and responsibility students have.

After identification and acceptance of their key issues, the challenge for our students is to create, implement, and refine ways of resolving them. As their abilities in dealing with these issues improve, it is essential they be provided with additional responsibility and freedom in order to maintain the challenge crucial to generating steady personal growth. The expectations placed upon them continue to increase as they move through the stages of therapeutic focus until the responsibility and freedom they are managing closely resembles what will be expected of them upon completion of the program. This allows them to work on the skills and proficiencies they will need in the outside world within an environment where they feel safe and successful, thereby preserving the momentum they have built throughout their progression through the program.

The program is designed to promote a sense of community or "therapeutic milieu". In the community, every aspect is considered a therapeutic instrument. The community includes students and staff and is designed, as much as possible, to resemble the normal school and social environment of adolescents, with the understanding that mature adaptation to the community can contribute to the adaptation of the student to their normal surroundings upon leaving the program. Students are assigned to a team that is composed of students from all stages of the program. As a team, students participate together in chores, group therapy, team activities, and team challenge trips during block breaks. They also room together in the dorms. The teams are designed to resemble a family with "siblings" of all ages and abilities, guided and supervised by trained staff that we refer to as House Parents, and under the clinical guidance of the team Therapist.

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