Student Stories

Garrett Davis,

I started Grove at 12 years old. I was a very disturbed child as I had many issues which included anxiety, anger, academics and the list goes on. It took me a couple of years to understand that my therapist, my advisor and my parents only wanted what was best for me but I had to make the changes that I needed. By my junior year, I was on the right path for improvement but I knew I still had a long way to go. When I graduated in August, I wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be and my team decided it was best for me to do a postgraduate year. I finally left Grove the next summer. A few months after leaving, I faced the most difficult obstacle, I lost my brother, which put my world in an entirely new perspective. About a year and a half later I realized that I wasn’t myself and I needed a change in my life. I decided to volunteer in Israel teaching English to Israeli children. Recently, I picked up my life and moved to Israel where I am pursuing teaching English to Israeli children and happier than I could imagine. There is a quote that I made and applies to everything I learned while attending Grove “when life puts obstacles in your path, how we navigate them defines who we are.”

Eric Teitelbaum,

In the fall, after living a very normal and healthy life, my teachers, parents, siblings, and peers all noticed a change in me. I was very depressed, anxious, antisocial, and irritable to the point where I was basically unable to function. These changes were the beginning of a very rough time period for me which lasted for almost 2 years. During that time period I was hospitalized six times. I was constantly being prescribed different medications. I was very angry at times and I used poor coping strategies to deal with my emotions. I also started to realize that my parents’ divorce when I was six years old may have impacted me more than I once thought it did.

My family and I tried many things, and not much was helping.  My mother ran the idea of going to Grove by me and I was not opposed to it. One day in May we visited the school and took a tour. Ironically, the boy who gave me a tour turned out to be a very good friend of mine. A few days after the tour I got a phone call stating that I was accepted into the program.

I started at Grove the following July and at first I was very shy, I did not have a lot to say. Gradually through encouragement from my therapist, advisor, staff, and peers I became much more sociable, friendly, and because of the encouragement I developed much more self confidence. The encouragement I received helped me acquire new personal qualities as well as renew qualities that I once had that diminished.   Through encouragement from people at Grove I realized I was smart, athletic, kind, humorous, and that I should take pride in who I am.

My experience at Grove was amazing. I will never forget my time on the A.S.T.E.E trips whether it was exploring the seas in the Caribbean, or helping out an impoverished community in El Salvador. I made some great friendships with students and staff at Grove that I will always cherish. Living at Grove taught me how to structure my daily routine. I learned to set aside time for studying, and fitness, and spending time with family and friends.

After I left Grove I attended Middlesex community college for two years and got an associates degree in general studies.  After receiving the degree I transferred to Central Connecticut State University and decided to take up social work as a major. At CCSU I was inducted into the Phi Alpha honor society academic excellence.  I graduated from CCSU in with a 3.67 GPA receiving cum laude honors.  If it wasn’t for the positive experiences the way staff impacted at me at Grove I wouldn’t have chosen social work as a career path.  It was because of the way staff at Grove impacted me in which inspired me to take up a profession where I could have a similar impact. The people who work at Grove are some of the most genuinely caring people I’ve ever met. Not only does this school change lives, but it saves them as well.

Recently I have had the opportunity to see Grove from a different perspective.  I was a care staff at Grove in the summer  before my senior year of college. I have just finished applying to Master’s in Social Work programs for summer/fall and I know that the experience of working at the Grove School will look great on a resume and help prepare me for the social work field.

Working as a care staff continues to be an unbelievable experience.  I learned that Grove is not only a great place to help children but also a great place to work.  I have gained an even greater appreciation for Grove while working as a care staff.  Throughout my life I have attended many different schools, I have worked in and interned in many different institutions.  With that being said I truly believe that The Grove School is special organization with a unique environment.

Dennis Michael Sullivan Jr.,

I was a 14 year old high school freshman when I entered the Grove School.  My life seemed to have no purpose at that point.  I did not have any friends, my family life went down the drain, and I had very low self-esteem because of bullying and doing things I had no pride in.  After overcoming some of my social, emotional, and moral issues at Grove, I saw hope again.  Time went on, and life appeared brighter and brighter each day.  I no longer felt left out of social situations and instead initiated them.  My emotional struggles slowly faded and the fog that stopped me from liking myself eventually went away.  I came to the realization of how my actions could either greatly help or hurt others.  In the end, I came out a more stable, wiser, and less-impulsive person than I would have turned out if I went to any other high school.

Some people say that I just needed to mature and that I would have matured no matter what high school I attended.  Though I somewhat agree with this, I know that Grove School formed an extremely important trait in me that I would not have received from any other high school- self awareness.

If Grove School never taught me self awareness, I would still be the impulsive, socially-awkward, academically struggling kid that I once was.  Self awareness made me recognize the mistakes I made and how I could fix them.  It’s amazing; the entire system of the School is set up to force you to become more aware of your feelings and behaviors.  This trait that I have learned from Grove has inspired me to continuously search for answers to my struggles and give me the motivation to find what brings true happiness.

With this self awareness, I have been able to figure out what to do to keep myself at the 3.5 GPA that I currently hold and remain on the Dean’s List at Saint Michael’s College.  This self awareness has also helped me learn to balance my schoolwork, friends, and time commitment that the Saint Michael’s Men’s Rugby Team demands of me.  Most importantly though, that awareness I now have gives me the chance to figure what it is that not only brings me, but everyone true happiness.   Without this and without the Grove School teaching this, I would not have ever felt true happiness.  My current goals are to Major in Psychology and possibly work at a place similar to Grove School and help others recognize the importance of self awareness as how Grove did for me.

Sarah Rittenberg,

I was a 15 year old freshman, attending a college preparatory school in my hometown of Kingston, Pennsylvania. I was living at home with my parents and my seventeen year old brother who attended the same high school as I did. Each day, I found it a struggle to get in my brother’s car to go to school, and if I did go to school, I found it hard to stay for a full day. I was paralyzed with anxiety. I did not have many friends, and I had no life. My parents were at their wits end, and I was powerless to change the course of my life.

I visited numerous therapists and psychiatrists, one of whom suggested a therapeutic boarding school. After some intense research my parents came across The Grove School in Connecticut. I reluctantly visited Grove, and met with some of the staff. I disliked every moment of it, and I expressed to my parents that there was no way I was leaving them to go to boarding school four hours from home. Two weeks later, the car was packed and my family was waiting for me I struggled not wanting to go, and getting in the car was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. I knew this was the best choice deep down, and soon my life-changing journey began.

My first few weeks at Grove were extremely difficult. Supervised phone calls, check in’s, class, and a daily routine was very hard to get used to. I never had such structure in my life until coming to Grove.  Little by little, things began to change for me and I made great friends, whom I was not afraid to be myself around. I knew everyone was here for a reason, and I was not the only one struggling with an emotional disorder. With the help of my therapist and advisor I was finding daily activities no longer a struggle for me. In just three years, I was able to make up four full years of high school. I graduated with high honors, and found myself ready and able to go to college. I am now a senior at Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut. I spent two years working as a Resident Assistant, as well as an active member of the student activities board. Now I am a full time intern at Waterford Country School, working with children struggling with the same issues I once faced. I am looking forward to a career helping other troubled adolescents deal with many of the same problems I once faced. My ideal job would be working at The Grove School.

Alexandra Raleigh,

I left the chaos and instability that once defined my home life to attend Grove, a transition that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was not my choice to attend Grove, and despite this initial defiance, I learned to love everything that Grove had to offer. From A.S.T.E.E. trips to group therapy and everything in between, I took more away from Grove than I could have ever imagined.

Grove’s support was essential in improving both the academic and personal aspects of my life. When I was thirteen, I began having difficulty in both my home and academic environments, and for the following years, I refused to recognize my problems and accept any help. When I arrived at Grove, I was faced with the task of evaluating my role in a life that had deteriorated significantly. From my first day to my last, I was encouraged to reflect on my strengths, my weaknesses, and find balance within my life. The road to equilibrium has not been an easy one. It has been the epitome of struggle, with introspection that has been both intimidating and liberating. Grove’s wholistic approach has helped me accept my disorder as a part of who I am, and has helped me define who I want to be.

The relationships I formed with Grove staff members and fellow students proved to be invaluable. I learned to develop positive, trusting friendships with individuals who supported, challenged, and motivated me to become a healthier, more confident person. The unwavering patience of the Grove staff was exactly what I needed to traverse through the confusion of adolescence. Since my arrival at Grove, I have become more than my disorder and my fallibilities.

I have become a person of proud individuality and strength. With the help of my Grove experience, I was accepted into the University of Connecticut’s Honors Program, where I am currently majoring in political science and psychology. The passion I saw in the Grove teachers, staff members, and clinicians motivated me to pursue a career path with equal opportunity to give back. I hope to become the same positive force in others’ lives that Grove was for me.

Amanda Blumenstein,

Nine years ago I was a shy, terrified, overly anxious, and extremely depressed high school sophomore who had lost all hope. I was a student who was petrified of going to school, an intellectual that had lost all confidence in my abilities, and an individual who was certain she was destined to be a complete and utter failure. As the result of my time at Grove, in addition to sheer will and determination, I am a Masters level clinical social worker, working toward independent licensure who is currently transitioning from a position as therapist on an adult inpatient psychiatric unit to a position as an outpatient therapist for children and teens. I have been happily married for two years and live a wonderful live with my husband and two pitbulls at our home in southern Vermont. But most of all, I am now a self-assured and focused woman who is driven to help teens who are struggling just as I once was.

Grove was able to give me the life that I never thought I would be able to attain. With the tough love of my advisor, the psychological curiosity of my therapist, the complete and total support of all the teachers and dorm staff, and the unique community of friends that could only exist in a place such as Grove I was able to overcome my biggest obstacle: myself. Despite the successful program that the Grove School implements, it is not the program itself that makes this school a unique environment. It is the pure devotion and remarkable character of the individuals who run this institution that really make it a place that can change lives.

Brendan Heaney,
On January 4th I arrived at Grove School a completely different person than the person I was when I graduated a year and a half later.  That year was probably the worst year of my life. I had always had problems with depression and anger issues, but by then it has out of control.  I was constantly picked on at school which caused me a great deal of sadness and also caused me to miss a lot of school.  I was reclusive and did not speak to my family at all, I just refused.  This lead to constant fighting with my parents about my truancy.  By the end of my junior year I had skipped so much school that there was no way I could move forward into my senior year.  After another horrific start to the school year, my parents came to the conclusion that something had to change.

We got connected with an educational social worker who took one look at my situation and knew I needed a drastic change.  She recommended Grove School to my parents who were understandably leery.  It would require me to leave them and my life in New Jersey behind.  While every parent wants the best for their children, no parent wants to be that far away from their child. Our tour and visit put some of our concerns at ease, but leaving my life in New Jersey, even with all the depression and family problems I had, was still very hard.

Grove School was the right place for me.  It put me on the path to make me the man I am today.  I always consider my time at Grove as one of the favorite times of my life.  With the help of my therapist and my advisor, we figured out ways to help me deal with my anger issues and my depression.  Looking back on it today, it feels like the change was overnight, but I know that it took time and work.  Even when I wanted to give up on myself, Grove wouldn’t let me.  The people at Grove never gave up on me.  The people at Grove whether it be advisors, therapists, teachers, or even students and friends, saved my life.

Everything I have today- a good job, a fantastic family- I owe to the help and care I received at Grove.  I know that Grove has changed a ton in the years since I have been here, but the one thing I know will never change is the care and compassion they show every student.  I know that because not only did I experience it, but I saw it with my own eyes and still see it to this day.  Friends of mine gave them nothing but grief but they never gave up and today these friends are living successful lives, as well.  Thank you for believing in me and for saving my life.

David Johnson,
The Grove School gave me the solid foundation I needed to grow and to believe in my abilities and capabilities. It helped me to excel on a path that I can feel proud of. Grove taught me so much about people and how to cope and gave me the best education I could ask for. I have a special place for The Grove School because when I was there it literally saved my life. It helped to shape me into the the man I am today. I am now giving back to my own community as a Masters level, independently licensed mental health and chemical dependence therapist. I made a goal in my personal and professional life to give back and to pay it forward.  I cannot say enough of how The Grove School has helped so many people.