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Boarding School Spotlight: Eagle Ranch Academy

On any given day, you'll find Dave Arslanian on the phone with parents, answering questions about his school and working closely with them to ensure that their children and his students will receive what they need to be successful. But this isn't just any ordinary school. It's Eagle Ranch Academy (St. George, Utah) and it aims to help troubled teens, ages 12-17, learn to live a healthier life.

According to Arslanian, Eagle Ranch Academy aims to help struggling teens on their path to self-discovery. "What we do is re-teach core values and help them strengthen their personal character," he says. At Eagle Ranch Academy, they stand behind the tenet that every student has the potential to shine academically. "We're a value-based behavior-change program," he says.

In 2005, Arslanian and his brother Paul started Eagle Ranch Academy. These brothers were football coaches for many years -- they not only emphasized excellence in football, but also advertised personal growth. "To us," says Arslanian, "personal development was as important as football development." Over the years, as the Arslanian brothers noticed a decline in this mentality, they became determined to focus their game plan on forwarding the positive development of youths. That's when Eagle Ranch Academy took flight.

Although Arslanian says he loves helping troubled teens who are struggling, he says that Eagle Ranch Academy may not be for every student. "We have an assessment process that helps us determine whether or not it's appropriate for a student to attend our school," says Arslanian. The admissions process is thorough, yet simple in fact, with a 14-page assessment, an in-depth conversation with parents, and a review of all factors affecting the troubled teen's daily life and health. The enrollment at Eagle Ranch Academy is around 48 students, some of which have ADHD, negative self-esteem, are victims of abuse, or are bipolar, among other issues. "If Eagle Ranch Academy is most appropriate, then we work on admitting the student."

Once admitted, students see that the curriculum at Eagle Ranch Academy is based on four components, which include behavioral and therapeutic, academic, Life Skills Coaching, and healthy living, says Arslanian. Students at Eagle Ranch Academy can expect to be well-rounded upon completion of their time at this boarding school. "Here, students learn the benefits of a balanced life and learn how to maintain it," says Arslanian.

Arslanian wants to ensure that parents know Eagle Ranch Academy is all about nurturing students and having them accomplish great things. He says that sometimes it may be challenging in the parents' own personal growth and change. "We provide a safe place for students to be while they work things out with their families," Arslanian says. "We provide the tools and skills for the child and the parent, alike."

Although sometimes there may be resistance from the child, by the time they arrive at Eagle Ranch Academy and when they leave, they gained more than they ever imagined. In fact, some students who believe they need help have actually talked to their parents about the youth development program at Eagle Ranch Academy. "We've actually had students that [in the end] didn't want to go home," says Arslanian.

Eagle Ranch Academy's reputation transcends just its students, says Arslanian. The therapeutic boarding school has been featured on "The Montel Williams Show," and has been endorsed by Dr. Phil, Dr. Maryann Rosenthal, members of the NFL, and many others.

"We've clearly identified who we are and everything we do. Because of that and the quality that we provide, we have received endorsements," says Arslanian. "We didn't set out for them -- they just came our way. And that is what helps take any uncertainty away."