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Anchor Learning Academy, RI's First Recovery High School, Set to Open

For the 435 youth in substance use treatment in Rhode Island, rejoining their peers at their high schools is the most challenging part of their recovery.

Ninety-three percent of students report being offered drugs on their first day of school following substance abuse treatment. Within 90 days of returning to school, 50% of students are using at levels at or above where they were prior to treatment. When the school bell rings this September, these students will finally have the support they need to overcome the challenges and maintain recovery.

Anchor Learning Academy—an individualized program combining academics with clinical services to support each student’s personal recovery and academic goals—will open in September, making Rhode Island only the 10th state with a school dedicated to students returning to high school following treatment. The curriculum emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, creativity—the tools students need to become informed decision makers and contributing members of the local community and the global society.

“Our goal is to create a safe, sober community free of negative peer pressure for high school students where they can gain the skills needed for life-long recovery and to improve academic performance,” said Paula Santos, director of Anchor Learning Academy.

With total enrollment capped at 20 students, Anchor Learning Academy’s small size creates the ideal environment for individualized learning where students can address the social-emotional factors that contribute to their substance abuse while focusing on academics. The curriculum is based on state standards and Proficiency-based Graduation Requirements. Graduates will receive diplomas from their community school districts.

Anchor Learning Academy will employ blended virtual learning, which combines face-to-face instruction with e-learning. This method will allow students to learn at their own paces and access clinical services without disrupting their academic progress.


Paula Santos, Director of Anchor Learning Academy





"Our small size offers students access to unique learning opportunities, like service learning through partnerships with community organizations,” said Santos. “These partnerships will also allow us to create a robust experiential learning program to engage students in real world and meaningful learning.”

Clinical services integrated into the program include daily groups and activities to address issues the students encounter as they progress in their recovery. Individualized substance use treatment and relapse prevention plans are developed to support each student’s commitment to recovery. Transition plans will identify goals and supports following graduation, or return to a community school.

“Families play a critical role in the student’s educational, clinical and transitional planning, beginning at the admission process,” said Santos. “Each student’s recovery plan is shared with the family and we continue to engage them through regular communication and meetings.”

A key component of clinical services at Anchor Learning Academy is developing a recovery support network that is accessible outside of school and after graduation. Students will be connected to The Providence Center’s continuum of services for teens, including support groups, employment services, counseling and activities at Anchor Recovery Community Center.

For more information on Anchor Learning Academy, including admissions requirements or referrals, please contact Paula Santos at 401-432-7279 or