"They give you confidence. They teach you to never give up and to believe in yourself."
BFA Student Riverside Campus
When Timmy Gray first came to Bright Futures Academy Riverside, he was so mad at the world that he often refused to show up for class. And the days he did, he was disruptive if not out of control.
Now more than two years later, the 20-year-old student is a student employee at BFA who wouldn’t miss a day – thanks toa sense of purpose he gets from sweeping the floors, washing the dishes and doing other cleaning.
“The responsibility makes me feel good,” he said. “Lunch time and work time are the happiest of the day.”
Timmy is part of a program that allows students at Bright Futures to work on campus, earning money as they study. Applicants go through a job selection process that includes formal interviews.
In Timmy’s case, his cafeteria job helped dissipate the anger that welled up in him from a horrible past that few would be able to survive. He acknowledges that the abuse he suffered left him “struggling with managing anger issues in the past. Now it’s rare.”
Elaine May, Bright Future’s Director of Instruction and Clinical Supervisor, agrees. She credits the consistency of Timmy’s work for giving him a new perspective.
“It’s what gets him here, first and foremost,” said May. “And he’s here every day, using the skills we have taught him. He’s functioning and thriving. It’s amazing to see.
Timmy, whose long-term goal is to become an independent filmmaker of horror movies, says for now he wants to keep working at BFA for as long as he can.
“They give you confidence. They teach you to never give up and to believe in yourself.”
My daughter, Serena, has depression, anxiety and autism-related sensory processing problems. She takes several medications and has had a history of severe behavioral problems. As a result, she’s attended four different schools and at one point was in “home hospital,” where a certified teacher came two times a week to teach her lessons.
That was before we found a home at Bright Futures Academy in Riverside two years ago, when she started 7th grade. It’s been one of the better school experiences. She’s now making progress.
One thing I’ve noticed about Bright Futures is that the teachers and staff at the school don’t make excuses for a student because of his or her limitations. They really try to think outside of the box. If there are behavioral challenges, Bright Futures takes the initiative to find solutions before picking up the phone to call a parent. I found that was very helpful because you’re not receiving a phone call every day to pick up your kid from school.
If we didn’t have Bright Futures Academy, we wouldn’t have any other viable educational alternatives. We’d have to go back to home-schooling or “home hospital” – a much more restrictive environment that certainly doesn’t work as well as what Serena has now.
BFA Parent Riverside Campus
My foster son, James, is 21 years old and just last month he graduated from Bright Futures Academy in Riverside. He is Intellectually Delayed. As a result, he gets very pushy at times and he needs special attention.
At Bright Futures Academy, he received a lot of one-to-one attention from dedicated people who showed him a lot of patience and a lot of love. I am very pleased with them.
My foster son reads maybe at a second-grade level. His writing ability is very limited. When he was at school, he was often distracted and resistant to completing tasks. His classes had a teacher and two aides, and that was enough to give James the assistance he needed. When he would have outbursts, the Bright Futures staff consulted with me on how best to deal with them, and we worked together to help James progress to the best of his abilities.
The principal, Mrs. Betti Colucci, is an excellent person. She’s always helping everybody and making sure they’re doing their best. I think she and her staff are doing a great job because it is difficult to be caring for so many students that have special challenges and needs on a daily basis. Based on our experience, I would highly recommend Bright Futures Academy.
"If we didn't have Bright Futures Academy, we wouldn't have any other viable educational alternatives."
BFA Parent Riverside Campus
"I'm thankful that finally we found somewhere where my son can feel better about himself."
BFA Parent Apple Valley Campus
By the time my son Leo started fourth grade, he had gotten in trouble so many times that his disciplinary record stretched 56 pages. He was labelled the “bad kid,” the “troublemaker,” and if anything went wrong, everyone thought it was probably Leo.
He hated going school so much that there were times I had to threaten to call the police just to get him out of bed. Then every day I’d cringe when the phone rang because it would be the school telling me to take Leo home. He didn’t trust them and they never knew what he was going to do or say. He’s been sent home for anger outbursts, fighting, picking on or irritating classmates, cussing out teachers, throwing pencils. It got worse year after year.
Not surprisingly, Leo has had more than several suspensions over the years. In order to avoid formal expulsions, I had no choice but to remove him from the schools. He also had more than several suspensions.
Finally, I was forced to teach him at home so he wouldn’t fall too far behind. Then one of his counselors referred us to Bright Futures Academy, which just opened its Adelanto campus.
I thought: This is it. Leo’s going to the school for bad kids, the end-of-the-line school, the last school he goes to before a residential program. But when I first visited the campus, I was relieved. I discovered they have gone through all of this with behaviorally challenged students. They’re not shocked by anything.
On his first day at Bright Futures, the staff walked Leo into his classroom and his name was already there on the wall. It was all colored in and it said, “Welcome Leo.” I went home thinking this is going to work. He struggled a little bit in the first few weeks but after that he’s done a lot better. They don’t have a stand-over-you kind of attitude. They work with him to think through the consequences of his behavior. They offer alternative ways to handle his anger and frustration. The teachers are relatable.
Now he wants to go to school. When he gets to campus, they’re high-fiving him and putting their arms around him. I’m thankful that finally we found somewhere where he can feel better about himself.
He’s not the worst kid in school anymore. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want to be that person since he started going to Bright Futures. Now he tries to be the good kid.
"The school district has closed the door on my son. The County has closed the door on him, too. At Bright Futures, he's welcomed.
BFA Parent Apple Valley Campus
My 16-year-old son Adam has autism, epilepsy and an intellectual disability. It would be a battle just to get him to go to school, especially after a holiday or summer break. He would get very physical and refuse to go back. For that reason, schools dropped him and for three years, he didn’t go to school at all.
It’s still a battle to get him to school. After a break, it might take me two weeks to finally get him to agree to go. But now that he’s been at Bright Futures Academy in Apple Valley, the battle isn’t mine alone.
Bright Futures is the first school that has been willing to help me. Sometimes when Adam refuses to go, they will allow him to come in his pajamas. Even the principal has come to the house to try and persuade Adam to get on the school bus.
I love Bright Futures. Adam has been enrolled there for four years and he’s doing really well. Without Bright Futures, I wouldn’t have many options.
The school district has closed the door on Adam. The County has closed the door on him, too. At Bright Futures, he’s welcomed.