|MICHIGAN CASE STUDY 6
Eagle Village, Hersey, Michigan
4507 170th Avenue
Hersey, MI 49639
Eagle Village offers an unusual variation on the private special education theme. A
private-sector, residential care institution for adjudicated, non-sexually offending,
youth, Eagle Village has no educational program of its own. Rather, Eagle Village offers
classroom space on its own grounds in which the local school district (Mecosta-Osceola
Intermediate) conducts classes. Since they are able to access public education on their
own "turf," the kids in Eagle Villages residential program do not have to
leave the context of residential care.
Founded in 1968 by Kermit Hainley, Eagle Village was intended from the beginning to
address what Hainley saw as a severe defect in youth adjudicationthat it was too
institutional and tended to confine convicted delinquents within a system that failed to
make them independent and responsible. From early summer-camp and foster-care programs,
Eagle Village grew into a residential-care facility that is today licensed to house and
serve 48 children in a Learning Experiential Accelerated Program (LEAP). The residential
program for boys is a six-month program; for girls it is eight months. Boys and girls
between 12 and 17 are eligible for the program as long as there is no record of sexual
offense, no pregnancy, and on the condition that the child "shows a willingness for
total commitment." Family involvement is also mandatory. Once the child is accepted
and begins the program, families participate in on-campus "Family Weekends."
These weekends are devoted to "themes" which the administration and staff of
Eagle Village have determined to be essential to the successful treatment of its
Engagement - how to use Eagle Village and community resources for the
improvement of the family.
Communications - learning behavior styles and using verbal and non-verbal cues
to enhance family communication.
Roles - learning to distinguish the roles of each member of the family and how
they interact with each other in a healthy family.
Boundaries I - learning to set and enforce meaningful limits for the family.
Boundaries II - establishing and maintaining physical and emotional safety in
the family system.
Conflict Resolution - learning how to resolve problems and tensions within the
family unit in a positive and effective manner.
Eagle Village stresses the "experiential component" of all its programs.
"This is a hands-on treatment approach where the family and child can demonstrate
what is happening in the family through the use of metaphors. The use of physical or
situational metaphors provides a safe, non-threatening environment for dealing with tough
Each child enrolled in the residential program also takes part in a "wilderness
experience" called "Project Survive." This makes use of Eagle
Villages extensive grounds and facilitiestrails and campsites, rope towers and
other climbing apparatus. Eagle Village is also able to use its Adventure Learning Center
in its Delta Zone Program. This corporate team-training program, is highly successful,
providing "customized programs for front-line employees, skilled tradespeople, and
executive teams." Thus, the facilities at Eagle Village are put to a variety of
mutually supporting uses.
Most public school districts do provide their own special education for youth of the
type served by Eagle Village. The advantage of Eagle Village is that, in cooperation with
Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate, it can bolster the academic side of its clients
experience by providing a private-sector context offering much more than is normally
available in a public-school setting on its own. Eagle Village, being private, can see to
the spiritual care of the young people who reside there in a way that the public schools
Eagle Village demonstrates that the private/public dichotomy is not necessarily
absolute. The private sector and public sector can cooperate with each other in
unexpected, mutually beneficial ways.