Meet JRI's Service Navigator

Our Navigator personally answers questions and talks with you about resources that may be available in the community to meet your individualized needs. If you have any questions about our programs or services, or aren't sure what you need, contact our Service Navigator, Rachel Arruda, and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Rachel has been a part of the JRI team since January, 2000. For over 20 years, Rachel has been working in the field of human services assisting families with accessing and navigating services. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in psychology and Masters Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She was promoted in July 2005 to Family Networks Program Director where she closely worked with the Department of Children Families for 10 years ensuring that children and families received the highest quality of individualized services ranging from community based through residential care. Rachel is very dedicated to helping the individuals she works with and is committed to improving the lives of children and families. Rachel’s passion for creative service programming inspires her in her role as JRI Service Navigator.


Anchor Academy Cape Cod

Anchor Academy Cape Cod, located in Sandwich, Mass., is a special education, therapeutic day school that serves middle and high school aged students. The environment at Anchor, provides both educational excellence as well as social and emotional supports for its students. Our school staff are committed to providing a transformational learning experience for students who need alternative pathways for success.

School Mission Statement

Anchor Academy exists to provide challenging academics in a safe and supportive therapeutic rich environment. Through a strengths-based approach, we offer a transformational learning experience that fosters resiliency and prepares students to become skilled, informed. and responsible citizens. We design our program around anchoring our students with the supports they require to successfully achieve their academic, social, and emotional goals.

Anchor Academy Logo
At a Glance
This service is for
Focus: To provide a safe, supportive, and structured psychoeducational program for students that addresses their individual social, emotional, behavioral, and learning needs
Age: 10-22
Gender: male, female, transgender, non-conforming
Capacity: Anchor Academy provide small, structured classroom settings with a teacher student ratio of 6:1.
Let's Connect
Melissa Connors, Esq., Ed.D., MBA
School Director
Mailing Address:
PO Box 1283
Forestdale, MA 02644

Physical Address:
117 Stowe Road
Sandwich, MA 02563
(508) 420-6401
(508) 420-6405
Our Students

Anchor Academy Cape Cod offers students a supportive and therapeutic secondary school environment that addresses individualized educational, clinical, vocational, social, and transition needs. Following a student's enrollment, Anchor conducts a comprehensive six-week, strengths-based assessment of the student and a formal report of the following:

  • life domain snapshot and any changes;
  • adjustment to Anchor Academy; 
  • academic, clinical, and behavioral functioning and progress;
  • social functioning and needs;
  • family communication assessment;
  • medical overview;
  • transition and vocational goals and needs; and
  • successful coping, regulating, and supportive strategies across domains

Anchor also provides a course/credit review and educational history. Instructional strategies and classroom environments are non-traditional and include a variety of structures, sensory tools, and grading methods.  All class content is in accordance with Massachusetts DESE curriculum and testing requirements. Formal systems and data collection support ready reference to progress and student achievements.

Other components of the school include adventure-based and experiential learning modules, vocational/transition/life skills classes and community experiences; formal social skills curriculum across the milieu; a therapeutic support system designed to help students gain insight into regulation and use of coping strategies; an assigned Student Team Leader for each student; clinical and psycho-educational groups; connection to the student’s home and community to ensure continued progress and continuity; weekly all-school social activities and special events; specialized electives such as equestrian studies, culinary arts, art, music, and science/engineering, among others and varying with seasons and staff expertise. In addition to academic and clinical staff, Anchor Academy also has an on-campus nurse and technology coordinator. 

Student with tablet



Anchor Academy operates as an extended-year, 11-month educational program, with an optional summer experience. Certified special education teachers provide a challenging curriculum that is aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. The curriculum includes coursework in English/Language Arts, Math, Science, History, Computer Literacy, Art, Physical Education, Vocational Programming, and electives that prepare students for high school graduation and transition to employment or post-secondary education. Anchor Academy maintains a high teacher-to-student ratio (1:6) to ensure IEPs are fully implemented.

The school supplements the academic program with ChromeBooks, Google Education, and Smart Boards & Reading Plus online intervention. Credit Recovery supports students with course credit deficits and provides them with an opportunity to make up credits at their own pace and get back on track for graduation. Students will utilize Google for Education and Google Classroom to receive and submit assignments through a secure, school-managed system.

Student with chrome book
Therapeutic Supports

Anchor Academy is a therapeutic school where teachers and support staff work with students individually and in small groups to engage them in academic, vocational, social, and recreational activities that promote skill development and emotional well-being. The school implements a Positive Behavior Support approach, and uses a trauma-informed framework, an evidence-based clinical framework adapted for educational settings. Each campus employs licensed mental health clinicians who facilitate social skill groups, address IEP goals, and provide individualized counseling and support. A full-time nurse facilitates the health education curriculum, monitors individual health plans, and provides onsite first aid. The speech therapist works collaboratively with staff to strengthen the language and literacy component of the program and fully implement IEPs. Occupational therapy is also provided on an as-needed basis.

Transitional Supports

Anchor Academy supports students in making successful transitions between school placements as well as to employment and post-secondary educational opportunities. Students are offered a number of transitional opportunities, such as internship programming, community services opportunities, and college and career readiness classes. Interest inventories and assessments are made available to students to assist in identifying vocational areas of interest.

“My wife and I were very fortunate to have found Southeast Alternative School for our son. Southeast Alternative School was a restoring oasis in a long journey which helped our son connect with and use his strengths on his way to academic, social, emotional and ultimate employment success.”
Parent of a Former Student
Population Served

Anchor Academy Cape Cod works with students who face challenges with varying social, emotional, and learning deficits, which have resulted in lack of progress or success in school. All Anchor students have one or more disabilities that require specialized services for school success. Anchor students are generally capable of grade-level academic progress when they have academic, clinical, social, and milieu support.  Anchor students typically have challenges with social interactions, learning differences, attention deficits, fluctuations in mood, feelings of depression, difficulties with attachment, anxiety, traumatic life experiences, history of being bullied, negative societal stigmas, and fear of failure. Their clinical diagnoses vary, and Anchor considers the entire presentation and history along with acute need and situation in order to determine admission status. Active aggression or violence is contraindicated, as is active substance abuse, even if the student is engaged in outpatient treatment.

Request More Information

For assistance determining which programs or services will meet your individualized need, please fill out the form below. If you have a question regarding a particular program, please contact the Program Director listed in the “Let’s Connect” box above.