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CJ’s Riverside Journey

Written by CJ Pyne, recent Riverside School graduate: 

When I started in the Needham Riverside School in 2017, I was struggling with a multitude of personal struggles that prevented me from thriving in my education. My headspace, at the time, was in turmoil and I lacked the skills to better myself without support. From the first day at the Riverside School to the present day, I have always had a safe place to be myself and know at the end of the day I was supported unconditionally.

My previous high school essentially could not meet my educational and emotional needs. I knew it was in my best interest to attend a school that could help me, however attending another school was a difficult transition for me. When I started at Riverside, I didn’t feel like I was “fighting the fight” alone since so many of my peers related and knew what I was going through. One of the greatest things about this school is that the kids really do make the program what it is. Even when some of my personal struggles weren’t a common experience for kids my age, my peers never hesitated to find the right words to give me support and validation in groups. The therapeutic groups cover a broad range of topics like personal symptoms to family dynamics, which helped me process different aspects of my life.

The first full year I was at Riverside was a year of growth and learning new important life skills. Because my emotional needs were being addressed, I was able to excel in school and even earned better grades than I had ever gotten before. I grew to be more emotionally and academically intelligent. The clinician that I worked with for several years had provided me with a tool box full of coping mechanisms, new ways of reframing challenging thoughts, and different approaches to situations I was in. The teachers were also intuitive about my emotions and worked with me on solving educational problems. After struggling to find a school that would work with me on my issues, I finally felt like the focus was on what I needed to thrive and was tailored to my learning style. Having the opportunity to attend Riverside has opened so many doors up for me.

There were definitely challenges along the way to get to where I am today, a graduating senior. A particularly challenging year for me was 2019 when there were changes happening within the program. Change has always stumped me and made me feel like the world was crumbling apart. I had to learn valuable life lessons about change during my journey at Riverside. Looking back on the struggles of 2019 made me realize that that was the year I had to pull out my inner strength and use it for my own good. If I had never gone through what I did at Riverside, I would
have never learned how to utilize my resiliency. I have to thank Riverside hugely for showing me that I was a courageous person and that I could get through laborious difficulties. In the end, I know how celebrated I am for my accomplishments at Riverside. There was always a team behind me that ultimately led me to my success; something I never thought possible when I started in 2017.

-CJ Pyne


The Riverside Schools in Milford and Needham specialize in youth with significant emotional difficulties or a psychiatric diagnosis.  Along with a strong academic component based on each student’s individual strengths and needs, the schools include a unique group and individual therapeutic model based on best practices in the field. Riverside schools provide a strong foundation of life and educational skills essential for students to become successful members of the community.

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