Innovative Academic Environment Inspires Student Growth

Education is a powerful way to impact lives and inspire positive change, but a traditional school model doesn’t always meet the needs of children and youth in crisis. That’s where Opportunity Academy comes in. Its unique, innovative academic environment and individualized approach are helping kids accomplish their goals and equipping them for healthy, productive adult lives.  

Comprised of students in grades 7-12 from the EmberHope Youthville residential campus and the Newton USD 373 community, Opportunity Academy serves kids through a trauma-informed, innovative environment centered around positive reinforcement rather than punitive consequences. 

As we build toward the future, we recognize that we have an educational team that provides innovative learning experiences for some of the most challenging youth to teach, and it is time for an updated facility for this program.  

“Our focus is on growth, improvement, and substitution of positive behaviors for negative ones,” says Opportunity Academy principal Tyler Swalley. “This helps us send off the kids in a better place than they were when they came in, and with an enhanced facility, we could do even more.”

Opportunity Academy’s current, innovative academic environment extends to the classroom itself, where the school offers flexible seating. Instead of a traditional desks-in-rows model, students have the freedom to stand, sit in a variety of arrangements, or even lie on the ground. Also, rather than changing classes and teachers throughout the day, students at Opportunity Academy remain in the same room with the same teacher. “We’ve found this consistency allows the kids to bond to the teacher and each other, becoming a small family group,” Swalley tells us. “Rather than having to recalibrate between subjects, the students receive consistent expectations, which helps reduce their anxiety.”

Swalley has just completed his second year as principal of Opportunity Academy and is looking forward to updating the school for the students. He previously taught at Newton High School, but he found Opportunity Academy a perfect fit for his interests in both education and fostering upon finishing his administration degree. He and his wife, Jessica, have three children who were adopted through foster care. “We became licensed foster parents in 2018, and when we heard EmberHope Youthville was partnering with Opportunity Academy, it was the perfect fit,” Swalley says. “Our staff is dedicated to showing every student that they can learn and be successful and helping each find that avenue for growth.”

“We are thrilled by the positive results the Opportunity Academy is having on at-risk youth in our community,” said Lisa Capps,  Chief Advancement Officer. “You can inspire change and create a different future for underserved youth with your financial support of this innovative program.“ 

For more information on how you can help, connect with our development team at or call us at  1.855.260.Hope.