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Life at Abundant Life Academy

As a Christian boarding school, it is our commitment to introduce every Abundant Life Academy student to Christ Jesus. Abundant Life Academy IS NOT a therapeutic wilderness program, boot camp, military school, residential treatment center, emotional growth school, or traditional therapeutic boarding school.

Abundant Life Academy is a Christ-centered leadership school for troubled teens with academic and motivational issues.  No traditional therapy or other mental health services will be offered directly by Abundant Life Academy or our staff.  Licensed professionals from local private practices do provide therapeutic services to ALA students on a case by case basis as determined by staff. 

Abundant Life Academy is a non-denominational Christian boarding school for both troubled boys and troubled girls in separate programs.  We focus on academics, Christian discipleship, and leadership training. We create a small, intimate environment where we encourage emotional and spiritual growth. We aim to coach, teach, encourage, train, and compel. We expect our students to become self-motivated and governed by the standards set by Jesus Himself. Therefore, the accomplishments of the ALA student come from their willingness to invest in themselves. We hope and trust that the change in our students is an internal, “heart” based change.

At ALA, we believe that Jesus is the only answer. We lead the student to the answer, but it is up to them to apply what we teach. We do not force any student to comply with the growth process, or to excel academically. We coach them in such a way as to promote an internal drive to change. We coach and train the ALA student to trust and rely on the Holy Spirit, who is our comforter.

Positive Peer Culture

The positive peer culture process promotes caring, serving, and trusting. We want our students to develop a heart to help those in need, because Jesus taught his disciples to love and serve one another. The Abundant Life Academy Positive Peer Culture process promotes the same foundational teachings of Jesus Christ found in the Gospels.

You are probably very familiar with the concept of “negative peer pressure.”  The positive peer culture process works in the same manner, only the outcome of the behaviors is positive as opposed to negative. The positive peer culture process uses “modeling” and “positive peer pressure” to create the transformation of a negative peer into that of a positive peer.

At Abundant Life Academy we use the same foundational mechanisms of the peer pressure system, but instead of being pressured to act out, our students are encouraged to love, serve, and support one another as well as others. The positive peer culture system replaces the anti-social values with pro-social values with incredible results.

“Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other; making allowance for each others faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another.” Eph 4:2-3 TLB

With the positive peer culture system, the Abundant Life Academy staff build a climate characterized by “trust and openness.”  Most schools and programs operate on the opposite premise, as they use “invasion and exposure”. In reality, it is the operation of invasion and exposure that actually creates the negative peer culture in the first place. So, it would reason that “trust and openness” would have an opposite effect, that being a “positive” peer culture.

The positive peer culture process empowers the students. They are empowered to help and serve one another. The focus is to reward those students who demonstrate genuine concern for fellow students, as well as staff. There is no coercion, psychological intimidation, or manipulation involved. Within the peer culture no one is forced to do anything. Instead, they are encouraged through authentic concern.

Positive peer culture focuses on the direct and immediate issues and challenges of an individual, not the past problems. Since we can’t go back and change the past, the question becomes, “what are you going to do about it now?” It is all about how and what someone is going to do with the choices he has today. Again, when kids see all problems as opportunities for growth, they can reframe their past to positively impact their present, as well as their future.

The focus of a positive peer culture is on “values” instead of “rules.”  Kids need obvious boundaries, however, values are much more powerful. Too often rules are geared to keep students in submission, and to “control” behavior. Moreover, kids often see rules as an opportunity to “get over” on adults. This creates an “us” versus “them” mentality, and subverts trust between student and staff. Young people need to learn the basic values for living and not merely memorize and follow a set of rules.

The job of the teachers and staff of Abundant Life Academy is to establish positive values, and teach (by example) how to serve one another. The teachers and staff of Abundant Life Academy establish the pattern of caring through modeling, and rewarding those students who follow their lead. Jesus did the very same thing during His three-year ministry. Jesus created the most powerful positive peer culture known to man!


Foundations of Abundant Life Academy

No matter what has happened in the life of the Abundant Life Academy student prior to his or her arrival, there is always a new opportunity to get it right. The Abundant Life Academy program is built on the principles of caring, serving others, discipline, commitment, honesty, and integrity. It is our mission to instill these principles into each and every student we work with through the positive peer culture concept and by the power of the Holy Spirit.


A fully accredited academic curriculum will be offered to accommodate each student’s individual academic needs. The student’s academic progress is governed and managed by a credentialed teacher. Furthermore, Abundant Life Academy provides comprehensive academic and career counseling, assessing interests, ability, and skills. Every Abundant Life Academy student will be given the opportunity to graduate from high school and prepare to enter college.

Christian Discipleship Training

The dynamic principles of Jesus Christ are the foundation to the Abundant Life Academy Leadership program.  We go beyond the basic “instruction,” digging into the Word, and providing opportunity to experientially live out the commandments of our Lord and Savior. Our goal is that every student learns to be Spirit-led, and walk in the anointing of his or her calling.

At Abundant Life Academy we try to manifest the love of Jesus Christ, helping our students to see themselves and others through the eyes of Jesus. They must understand that everyone is precious in His sight, regardless of what they have done in the past.  There is room for Grace, through forgiveness and the work of the Cross.

“He told His disciples, I have been given all authority in heaven and earth. Therefore go and make disciples in all the nations baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commandments I have given you, and be sure of this-that I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” Matt 28:18-20 TLB

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Christian residential schools and behavioral therapy for troubled teens with teen counseling to improve behavior problems of teenagers struggling with anger, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention deficit, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), substance abuse, depression, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), intermittent explosive disorder (IED), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, self-harm, or rebellion.

Therapeutic boarding school that provides troubled teens with teen counseling and adolescent therapy. Our East Coast therapeutic residential school and academy serves teens from homes throughout New England and in New York, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Lexington, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Milwaukee, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, Richmond, Tampa, Virginia Beach, and Washington DC. Troubled teens come to ALA mostly from the U.S. and Canada -- A SEVIS certified school for foreign residents.