Our program uses an effective highly regarded alternative to traditional methods of instruction. This approach is well-suited to meet the individual educational needs of students, especially within the context of a comprehensive Individual Educational Plan (IEP).

  • All of our core academic teachers are certified in Special Education under Pennsylvania private school requirements.
  • YBEC provides instruction in a departmentalized fashion, meaning our students rotate through a typical class schedule very similar to students in the public school setting.
  • Our instructional support professionals (support staff) are a critical aspect to the student’s education at YBEC. These individuals often hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Adventure Education, as well as certifications in boating, climbing, and Wilderness First Responding.
  • YBEC offers full-time emotional support services for students with a disability who require services primarily in the areas of social or emotional skills development or functional behavior.
  • YBEC’s classes have a 1:6 staff to student ratio, this fosters more individualized instruction, attention, and less distraction. These small classes promote a more positive social and academic learning environment for our students.


Service learning combines both community involvement and learning goals in such a way that both occur and are enriched by one another. This approach to learning meets actual community needs, fosters partnerships between schools, communities, provides students the opportunities to use academic skills and knowledge in real-life situations, as well as foster the development of a sense of caring for others. Service-Learning activities and partners include Community Aid stocking and sorting, Habitat for Humanity, Bethesda Mission soup kitchen,
American Red Cross, Appalachian Trail Conservancy trail maintenance, Wild Wood Park clean-up and many others.

Experiential Education

Experiential education is at the heart of Yellow Breeches programming. Our engaging themes, hands-on learning in the classroom, and interactive experiences outside of the classroom draw in reluctant learners. These creative experiences help motivate students about learning and life. Experiential trips take words and concepts on a page and transform them into something tangible students can work with, bringing learning into a real-life context. Experiential education allows our students to interact with concepts from various perspectives and modalities. In addition, experiential education creates opportunities for students to build character, emotional capacity, communication skills, and the ability to connect and effectively interact in public with community partners.

Thematic units drive our curriculum and goals for the year. Our thematic unit is divided conceptually into four marking periods and integrated into all academic and elective classes.

Our weekly experiential and adventure based trips help enhance and direct student learning. Themes are chosen based on students needs, interests, and curricular concepts that need to be reinforced. Each year, staff work hard to creatively develop experiences that will allow students to dig deeper into issues and ideas, learning from the inside out.

Adventure Education

YBEC utilizes an adventure program in conjunction with the experiential activities. The greatest benefit of the adventure-based program is the reframing or rethinking students may experience. Adventure trips place students in a dramatically different environment from their daily lives, breaking up their normal frame of reference and creating opportunity to see things in a different way. Carrying this ability into the classroom can free students from old restrictive frames and enable them to take on new roles and explore different behaviors. Wilderness adventure activities offer opportunities to combine physical action and endurance with reflection. During these experiences students are taught how to handle the environmental variables that included extreme temperatures and weather as well as how to work with their peers to manage personal and group struggles. These activities teach students to chose appropriate responses to variables that are out of their control. By learning to choose their responses students can take this new heightened sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy back into their classrooms or to life after school. These experiences are impossible to provide solely in a classroom setting. That is why at YBEC, learning may begin in the classroom but it never ends in the classroom!

Positive Behavior Modification System

Change does not happen overnight and neither does becoming a Level Three student at YBEC. Every student who enters YBEC begins as a Level One student. Through demonstrating the pillars of our character education: courage, respect, responsibility, trust, and effort, they earn accumulating points. When a student acquires a set number of points, determined by their YBEC campus, they are given their Level Two presentation. Once the presentation assignments are completed, they earn Level Two status. This process is again repeated, but with a higher total point target, a more difficult presentation, and an interview with teachers and staff. Upon completion they are granted the honor of Level Three status. Our Positive Behavior Modification System gives daily built-in incentives for students to offer their best and serves as a means to behavioral progress monitoring. With each upward level change students earn more privileges, rewards, and responsibilities.

Our Level Three students are expected to be the pinnacle of what represents YBEC. They are the leaders and role models for their peers. No longer accumulating points, they must maintain at least 85% of their points, in order to avoid probation or a possible level drop. However, the biggest rewards for progressing, towards, achieving, and maintaining Level Three status are our amazing trips.

Level Three students are given the opportunities of a lifetime. By maintaining their status they have the privilege of participating in outstanding adventures. Our Level Three students head out on Atlantic Ocean fishing voyages, journey to paddle and camp in the Florida Everglades, expeditions to ski and snowboard in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, as well as various other wild exploits all along the east coast of the United States. When a student returns from seeing the ocean for the first time, boating next to dolphins or learning how to ski and snowboard, their mental and physical stamina has been improved. This flows over to other parts of their lives, empowering students to achieve more. They begin to wonder, if they can successfully rock climb 100 feet in the air, what else can they do? At YBEC we believe they can do more than they have ever imagined!

Family Involvement

Involvement of family members in the educational experience of their child is encouraged and expected. Individual Education Plans (IEP) that may include behavioral expectation contracts are developed with the direct involvement of the parents of each child. Regular phone contact is made with all parents to update them on student issues and parents are encouraged to attend a quarterly meeting that is planned to solicit family input, share pertinent and current information, as well as review the individual progress of each student.

Character Fitness Training

Character fitness training is a unique discipline that stresses the development of individual character, integrity, and respect for family and others while providing participants with a peace of mind-confidence and self-discipline of oneself. Character fitness training also promotes a persons’

  1. patience: helping them to better understand themselves and allowing them to become freer people who can keep patience and use good judgement in all affairs
  2. courage: strengthening the will and fortifying the person against obstacles, weakness, and the disappointments of life
  3. health: improving a person’s overall physical and mental well-being.