Thesis Site Location: Brehm Preparatory School
By Kyle Miller
Brehm Preparatory School is the only accredited junior and senior high school in the Midwest specifically designed to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of students with complex learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder. Brehm was founded in Carbondale, Illinois in 1982 and has many direct relationships to Southern Illinois University. The resources that Brehm can receive from the University include teacher or tutor to access to any activities that happen there. Brehm bases their program on a family model. For my thesis, I chose Brehm as my proposed site because it demonstrates a structured learning environment for students who have ADHD. This structure environment pairs well with the environment of a martial arts studio. From my research, there is a large population of ADHD kids in the United States that have been diagnosed with this condition and they live in spaces that are contributing to the issue.
The campus is laid out to feel like home and to encompass every student at Brehm. The dorms have sit down kitchens which promote the family atmosphere. The student dorms are separated into junior high, freshman/ sophomore, junior/ senior and fifth year seniors. Five years ago Brehm had an enrollment of 55 students; the enrollment is currently up to 90 students and projections look good for future growth. The student classrooms are small and the class size is 8 to 10 students. ADHD students need a structured learning environment where there are no distractions in the classroom. Therefore, the hallway walls in Brehm are purposely more stimulating than the controlled classroom. The students schedule includes waking up and getting ready by 7am. At 7:15 am breakfast is served in their rooms. At 8:15am, their seven-class period day starts which include classes of English, Math, Social Science, Science, Physical Education, Fine Arts, Foreign Languages, computers, learning cognition or transition electives. They pride themselves on project based learning where the students work together on projects. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday the students meet with their advisors at the end of the day and on Tuesday and Thursday the students meet with their advisors after lunch. After school there is recreation time from 3:30pm to 5pm. Brehm is a controlled environment as the facility is live-in for the student population. They are an Apple database campus in which everything runs through a central database which predicts student behavior. With this technology, the teachers know if the student has done their homework and where they struggled with it. The students at Brehm are creative free-thinkers and since they work well in a controlled environment, martial arts is an example of how to help these students develop better learning skills.