Wednesday, March 8, 2017


What is it?
Neurofeedback is a computerized therapy technique that teaches the brain to change itself by helping regulate attention, mood, behavior, cognition, and more. In simple terms, neurofeedback is positive reinforcement for the brain. It teaches the brain how to be better balanced, improving alertness, attention, emotional regulation, behavior, cognitive function, and mental flexibility. The neurofeedback device measures brain waves and teaches the brain to make healthier patterns by rewarding the brain through sounds and actions from a video game. Once these healthier brain patterns are practiced and learned, the effects of neurofeedback tend to hold, at least for many problems. As someone’s brain learns to improve and better modulate its own regulation, medication can often be reduced. Sometimes, it allows medications that weren’t working well to work better.

The Process:
One or two small sensors are placed on the head. The sensors detect the client’s brainwave activity. The amplifier picks up this information and converts it into a signal the computer can understand. The therapist will then set up a plan on what the student needs to focus on for better regulation of themselves. Once a plan is instated, a student chooses from a series of video games that they will use sounds and visual stimulation to reward and stabilize their dysregulation.

New to Woodward Academy
Neurofeedback has been used for over 30 years clinically, with hundreds of thousands of training sessions and it is new to Woodward Academy. Therapists are currently training with the technique and plan to use this effective model with students this year. There are no known situations where a long-term, adverse effect has been identified.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Knights Bowl Dorm Challenge

The first annual Knight's Bowl Dorm Challenge kicked off in mid-January and allowed dorms to compete against one another in the one category that means the most on campus: behavior. For years, dorms compete for the coveted Knight's Achievement Award each month as one of the four monthly awards given out at each assembly. This award reflects the best Knight's Club at the time and is largely based on qualitative evidence. But there are times when a larger carrot is needed to keep everyone focused and motivated on the positive momentum that is happening on campus. For this 4-week challenge, that incentive was an NBA basketball game for the winning dorm.

The points for the challenge were set up partially like a golf scorecard with negative behaviors gaining points, and identified positive behaviors subtracting points: the dorm with the lowest score after the four weeks winning the competition. Weekly winners were also identified with mini-prizes for each week. Examples of some of the items being scored include being on time to school, recruiting new pledges and Knights on the dorm, having successful weekends an home passes, and positive forcefield ratings.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Website Features

On February 21, Woodward Academy launched its new website under the same URL home: This redesigned site boasts a modern, colorful design, full of images and videos from campus, and offers quick and easy access to essential information about the school and programming.

Discussions of a new website began in April 2016 and formally got underway a few months later in August. The previous site had been live for nearly 10 years and had gone mostly unchanged during the time. Although much of the available content was still accurate, the site was dated and very much not in line with the rest of the school’s communications pieces.

Woodward Academy's communications plan consists of a quarterly newsletter (the Knightly Knews), Knight Pics website, a blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and various other print publications. They all hold a consistent style, which the current website lacked. Rather than update the current site, a complete redesign was decided upon to bring it in line with the other pieces of the communications plan.

In order to maintain the aesthetic of Woodward Academy's other communication pieces, the design of the website was developed in-house rather than outsourced to a web development company. Communications Director, Eric Smidt, compiled the content of each page, mapped the new site, and designed within Adobe Photoshop. Once mocked up, the Photoshop files were passed on to Willetts Technology, who was responsible for converting those files into web compatible versions for the new site. Willetts Technology maintains all web hosting and maintenance for the schools under the umbrella of Sequel Youth and Family Services. After seven months of design and development, the new site was complete.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Become a Knight // Staff Videos

We talk a lot about how becoming a Knight changes the lives of the students at Woodward Academy. But they are not the only ones who are impacted by the amazing culture on campus. The adults who work tirelessly with these students are also changed as a result of their time on campus and it is an experience that is unique and one they never forget.
Many staff members have made a career at Woodward Academy because they have fallen in love with the school’s mission. The work is not easy, but they know they are fundamentally making a difference in the lives of youth on a daily basis. This is the primary reason why staff continue to love Woodward Academy, but it is not the only factor. The staff highlighted here volunteered to be interviewed on camera as a part of a video series that you can see on our YouTube Channel. Through their discussions, a number of similarities arose as to why they love being a Knight and how Woodward Academy is more than just a job.
At Woodward Academy, no day is exactly the same and this flexibility appeals to a lot of people. Group Leader Darryl Stewart put it best when he said that he couldn’t work at a desk job. He said it’s just not him and prefers to be active with the students and fellow staff members to plan the day and come up with solutions to problems. This “family feel” approach was a common theme among these staff and they attribute much of their success to the support they received early on.
A lot of veteran staff members entered Woodward Academy straight out of college, knowing very little about the school. They anticipated it being a stepping stone to something larger, but fell in love with the philosophy, the culture, and how it challenged them professionally. At the time, they entered a world they knew little about, but over time were molded in the Woodward Academy way.
Program Director Ted Rives said it is the “best job I’ve ever had.” Case Manager Sierra Schnoebelen continues that sentiment when she says “It’s a job I wake up and want to come to work every day.” These staff make Woodward Academy successful and pave the way for the next group who decides to Become a Knight.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Winter Sports Posters 2016-2017 // Basketball and Powerlifting

The winter sports posters for the 2016-2017 season are out and both can be picked up on campus. Basketball is currently entering the post season and have looked solid throughout the year. The poster shows the team in action with a retro font feel and muted color scheme.

The powerlifters are just getting their competition season rolling. They performed well at the Des Moines Metro Classic in January where 9 lifters qualified for Nationals. Their next events are in Nebraska in February, and a home meet in March, with the end of the season happening at the USAPL High School National Championships at the end of March. This year, Nationals will be held in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

We have produced sports posters for each one of our teams since the 2008-2009 basketball season and often get asked how they get made. Each one is different and unique and is produced and printed on campus. For these two posters, individual pictures were taken of each athlete and composited together for the final poster. For the most recent updates, follow our Facebook page to get updates throughout the season and be sure to get a poster for your office next time you're on campus. After the break, you can view full images of each poster.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Inertial Guidance System

This story was originally published in Volume 40 of the Knightly Knews that you can download here.

It is Monday morning, and these group living staff members sit in a conference room around a table, planning to break inertia. Impromptu meetings are more their style, but with the balancing act of all of their responsibilities, and the fact that they spread out across campus, a formal meeting is needed. These staff members are some of the most veteran on campus and this meeting is one way that sets Woodward Academy a part from other residential facilities. Not the meeting itself, but what is accomplished.
In many ways, Woodward Academy prides itself on not being perfect. When your product is working with people, things go wrong and people make mistakes. With that notion in mind, change is easy to come by because it is built into the system. It is just something that naturally happens and the
culture evolves with it.
These weekly meetings are never the same, but have developed some consistencies over time. There is general information sharing, and opportunities to discuss calendar events. But much of the meeting is situational and addresses normative issues on campus. This team looks at what areas are lacking, how students can help brainstorm and resolve those issues, and then creates an actionable plan to work from.

When they all meet together, there is 140 years of Woodward Academy experience that helps develop the inertial guidance system that propels the school to success. Under the leadership of Group Living Director (GLD) Trent Fleshner, and newly promoted Assistant GLD Glen Miller, this group manages every student’s program at Woodward Academy, and supervises the vast majority of the staff members.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Knightly Knews Vol. 40 is now online!

The latest edition of our award-winning publication, the Knightly Knews, is now online and you can access it by clicking here. As a .pdf document, you can view or download the quarterly publication to your computer, iPad, or smartphone for easy reading. This Breaking the Inertia edition includes:
- Become a Knight staff videos
- Student becomes a Certified Nursing Assistant (C.N.A.)
- Inertial Guidance System: profile on group living leaders
- Falls sports recap
- Neurofeedback
- World of Work extracurricular activity
- Drumline sneak peak

We hope you have a chance to check it out and enjoy the read.