Press Release: Pressley Ridge Employee Receives 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award
PITTSBURGH, PA – James Doncaster of Pittsburgh, senior director of organizational development for Pressley Ridge, recently received the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Re-Education Association (AREA) at the organization’s recent biennial conference in Cleveland, Ohio.
“Since 1982, AREA has presented the Life Achievement Award to individuals who have made significant contributions to furthering the principles and practices of Re-ED. Jim Doncaster has done that every day since 1970,” said Mark Freado, executive director of AREA. “He has contributed through his writing, his quiet leadership and his example. He is a trusted friend and colleague, and we are pleased to recognize the spirit and substance he always brings to our work.”
Re-ED (Re-Education of Emotionally Disturbed Children) is a dynamic, strength-based, family-centered approach for working with children and youth with severe emotional disturbance. It was developed in the early 1960s by Dr. Nicholas Hobbs of Vanderbilt University at the request of the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH was seeking a new paradigm for the treatment of children with severe emotional disturbance that would be both highly accessible and cost effective.
Re-ED has been a part of Doncaster’s life since 1970 when he became a teacher/counselor at Smallwood School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He later became a supervisor and then principal at Riverbend School in Knoxville, TN.
In 1975, Doncaster joined Pressley Ridge as the first director for the Therapeutic Wilderness School at Ohiopyle. Between 1981 and 1987, he returned to Tennessee, working for the departments of Mental Health and Education, respectively. Doncaster then moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, where he founded and directed Walden House, a Re-ED program for children who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing.
In 1989, Doncaster returned to Pressley Ridge, where he has worn many hats, including director of training; director of wraparound services; senior director of community-based, residential and educational services; and currently, senior director of organizational development.
“Jim’s commitment to Re-ED goes to the very heart and soul of what Re-ED is all about,” said B. Scott Finnell, Ph.D., LCSW, president and CEO of Pressley Ridge. “His actions – both professionally and personally – are focused on helping children and families in trouble. We are proud to have him as part of the Pressley Ridge family and applaud him for this much deserved honor.”
Doncaster’s work also includes presenting at numerous conferences in the United States and Portugal, authoring numerous articles on Re-ED in Reclaiming Youth and other journals; and writing a chapter in the new Re-ED book, “Helping Troubled Children and Youth.” He also just completed a chapter for an upcoming book about pioneers of experiential education.
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