The Focused Needs of Girls

Lakeside has offered a unique and special program for girls entitled Lakeside Girls Academy.

Although there have been changes through the years in the program, there is still a significant need for a program that is exclusive to female students.

The program originated to assist teen pregnancy. It was one of the only school environments that provided pre- and post-natal care as well as all the educational tutoring in order to keep students moving forward in their academics. As the program became recognized for its care it expanded to provide support for parenting teenagers. Then the focus changed to concerns that were specific and exclusive to females under these conditions, including mental health issues, sexual abuse, and trauma.

As part of our mission, Lakeside is purposed to meet the needs of students in context to their life circumstances. It is why we have a variety of approaches and programs that are flexible and focused on what students bring to us within the context of their lives. 

Having the privilege of working with girls has allowed us to formulate a variety of helps and interventions to our students. In our Academy our students find a strong group of young women who support and work with each other and with our staff to overcome some very difficult life barriers. Whereas we used to be a program that was relatively narrowly focused, now we have broadened our educational services, our counseling, our case management and our daycare in order to rise to meet an ever-changing and complex set of issues that are a daily part of the lives of our students.

It is often beneficial for female students to have their own building, their own environment and their own staff who will understand their unique needs. Some cannot cope with males as classmates, at least for a season. The Girls Academy has created a safe environment which is important to students who have experienced abuse, neglect, trauma and other forms of adversity.

The added dimension of helping our students regulate their dysregulated brains through trauma-informed interventions is also tremendously helpful. Our Girls Academy is a small environment where relationships are valued and used to give help and hope to these young women. Some of them have infants and some are just in need of a special place to be where they can be accepted for who they are, have staff who understand their life dilemmas and who can thrive. I just attended our graduation, and the testimonials were amazing. I am so proud of our students, their families and our staff who focused on the unique needs of these students as the young women they are.

Gerry Vassar


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