a non-profit educational and social learning environment for adolescents


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About Fort Davis


a member of the
Social Learning Environment family founded in 1976.

Welcome to The High Frontier

The decision to place a child in a residential program is a complicated one. For most, it comes after a great deal of emotional pain and stress for all members of the family. Usually it is seen as the last chance to help a troubled child get back on track, and is fraught with feelings of despair and hopelessness.

Many of the young people that come our way have encountered significant trauma and have been involved in traditional psychological treatment for a number of years. Some may have multiple diagnoses and have encountered other therapeutic placements. Many a family sees the child as a list of diagnostic labels, one after the other identifying what is wrong, but never seeing anything improve. All of the families have one thing in common, a love for their children, and a wish to see a brighter future.

It is our mission to give hope back to the families and to help them see that all is not lost. Even though these youth may have provided professionals and loved ones with ample reasons to see them as damaged, or in some cases irreparable, it is our contention that in each person lies the inherent wish to do good, to be good, to care for others, and be cared for.
This is at the core of our philosophy, the belief that our children today are not liabilities but assets. Through a variety of circumstances some have lost their way, but this does not mean we should give up. So many of these young people have never tapped into their true potential, and their self concept is so poor that they feel as if they have nothing to offer their family or anyone one else in this world.

The Positive Peer Culture model is powerful therapeutic approach designed to address the negative behaviors and beliefs that have lead to such a hopeless place, and replace them with a sense of competency, caring, responsibility, and self-worth. By acknowledging and enlisting the use of a powerful influence, the peer group, a child learns to care again. Helping these youth to identify their strengths, acknowledge what needs to be worked on, and giving them a purpose in helping others helps them understand and see their potential, and realize that they do matter.

Including those people who love the child the most, the family, in the treatment process is vital. We do not seek to take away that connection but to build on it. Engaging the family throughout the process is one of the most powerful ways to create change.

High Frontier School is licensed as a residential treatment center, that utilizes the Positive Peer Culture model to serve a co-educational student population between the ages of 12 and 18. We are located in the historic Davis Mountains of West Texas, between Fort Davis and Alpine at an altitude of over 5000 feet. The property includes approximately 360 acres of Spanish Oak and high-desert vegetation, river habitat and short-grass prairie that provides a beautiful setting and is ideal for horseback riding, hiking and other outdoor activities. The facilities include 10 cottages, dining hall, administration and clinical buildings, recreational buildings, swimming pool, gymnasium, stables and arena, school classrooms, and other facilities. Family cottages are on site for therapeutic family visits.

Founded in 1976, High Frontier provides academic and treatment services to students who are typically experiencing significant problems in the following areas: establishing and maintaining positive long-term relationships with family members, peers and adults, learning challenges or disorders, significant setbacks in academic progress, and may present a range of mood, anxiety or behavioral diagnoses. High Frontier has, since 1978, addressed these problems through by integrating the Positive Peer Culture model through all aspects of our campus including group, individual and family therapy, academic work, recreational activities and student responsibilities in helping to maintain and improve their campus.

High Frontier is licensed through the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) as a Residential Treatment Center.


High Frontier Academics
A Director’s Note

The High Frontier view of academics is multi-faceted in regards to both the obligation of the adult to teach, and the student’s obligation to learn. Consistent with the over-arching Positive Peer Culture Model, our academic delivery recognizes that we are social animals. Consequently, we respond accordingly utilizing “social interest” as the catalyst to promote a newfound educational interest among our students. As opposed to so many common educational systems that attempt to motivate through policy, procedure, reward, and consequence, High Frontier harnesses this tremendous social power as the cornerstone to finding the student’s interest and willingness to learn. We cannot find the perfect policy, test, reward, or consequence that will compel a student’s educational interest. Unfortunately, this seems to be the current drive among our typical high school institutions and the bureaucracies governing them.

Partnership and authority are both necessary and yet commonly viewed more antagonistically to one another than they should be. As I reflect upon my own high school experience, those adults with whom the student had the greatest partnership also maintained the greatest authority and consequently the greatest influence. My memory from attendance in a large high school was that the typical teacher had no systemic ability to develop relationships. We were indeed strangers to each other. Individual student misbehavior or apathy was met with a reminder of “policy and procedure,” followed by the threat of the adult teacher to tattle tale to the vice principal who would judge and punish the infraction. And yet, the joker in the classroom seldom “saw the light.”

I remember many peers from my high school experience, but I remember nobody from my classroom experience. Not one peer knew whether I was making an “A” or “F.” My peers, however, knew much about me outside the academic class. They knew my friends; they knew my extra-curricular activities; they knew what girl I thought was best; they knew who I listened to on the radio and quite often they knew my parents. They were a great influence on me except in what was my adolescent job of education. Most of my peers were somewhat apathetic to education. “We’ll just get by.” “We gave a 50% effort at best.” What is it about our educational systems that fail to utilize this social influence in what should otherwise be the most important part of the day?

There was, however, an exception to this norm. The exception was found among the student’s most hated part of the day. How could one enjoy the pain, dehydration, bruises, and admonishment that accompanied their participation in athletics? The exception was found on the field and court every day at the end of school. Athletic practice found the students giving 100%. The coach was typically one who never relied on “policy and procedure” to maintain authority. Yet, he or she was never bucked. This same coach was typically the only adult with whom we had a partnership. The coach was to develop the strategy; the student was to implement it. Cooperation and success were one with the student and adult. I can remember each and every one of my coaches and the things they told me. I remember their wives and kids names. I remember well all of my fellow players. I don’t remember, however, any of my teacher’s names. The source of this memory and 100% effort was “team.” At High Frontier, we borrow the Adlerian term of “Social Interest.” It is a psychological precept that seems much too absent in today’s education. We introduce this concept into the classroom.

Cordially, Barry