Nonprofits team up to launch ‘recovery high school’

McShin Academy will occupy an unused building on the north end of the campus. (St. Joseph’s Villa)

Two area nonprofits are combining their expertise to help local students affected by what’s been labeled a national epidemic.

St. Joseph’s Villa and the McShin Foundation are opening the McShin Academy, a so-called recovery high school for teens struggling with substance abuse and addiction, particularly opioid addiction.

From its 82-acre campus at 8000 Brook Road, St. Joseph’s Villa provides education, shelter and health services to children facing disabilities, mental health issues and homelessness. The McShin Foundation supports recovery efforts for people dealing with substance abuse.

The school, grades 9 to 12, will occupy a previously unused building on the north end of St. Joseph’s campus. It underwent a light renovation over the last year to get it ready for the school.

Diana Morris, St. Joseph’s Villa’s senior director of children’s education services, said the idea for McShin Academy was hatched about a year ago.

“The ground of this is the incredible need due to the opioid epidemic,” Morris said. “McShin reached out to the Villa and it grew out of that. They had (students with) nowhere to go and were falling further and further behind with academics. We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be incredible to have a high school program for them?’”

The building’s renovation is complete, and Morris said they’ve received some referrals for prospective students. The Academy is about a month away from welcoming its first class. The two nonprofits will offer their respective specialties at the McShin Academy.

“Throughout the day recovery will be interspersed with academic classes,” Morris said. “Education has been our business for a long time. We’re going to bring that education piece, and (McShin) will do all the recovery.”

The Academy is outfitted to serve up to 60 students, and plans to have five to six teachers. The two foundations are looking for a permanent principal, and Morris is acting as such in the interim.

The McShin Academy will be a day program, meaning students won’t live on campus. Morris also said it’s intended to be a stepping stone for students on their way to recovery.

“There’s no plan to graduate students. I would think it’s more of a, ‘You come while you need us, then return to public school…’ So they’ll be graduating from the school they’ve come out of,” Morris said.

Tuition will be roughly $16,000 per year, with the McShin Foundation offering scholarships.

The McShin Academy is the latest local approach to helping those affected by the prevalence of opioid addiction.

Philadelphia-based Calyx Recovery recently opened its first Richmond-area outpatient facility, while Williamsville Wellness, a Hanover-based inpatient recovery facility, debuted smartIOP, an online outpatient program for recovering addicts.

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