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Individualized Support & Strategies

All students at Sandhill Child Development Center attend Del Rio Academy, an accredited private/not-for-profit school located on the Sandhill campus. For many of the students, their academic path has been a challenge, and they need individualized support and strategies to overcome difficulties that have limited their academic success in the past. Del Rio Academy offers a unique combination of experiential learning, traditional classroom instruction, and cutting-edge technologies to increase academic motivation and to enhance the learning process.

Education at Del Rio Academy

In order to address all of the curricular requirements and wide range of performance levels of the students, Del Rio Academy utilizes multiple methods of direct teacher-driven instruction from highly trained teachers balanced with online curriculum when appropriate. Del Rio Academy is committed to bringing technology into the classroom and utilizing an online curriculum is just one way of doing that. Due to the fast-paced advancement of technology, we find it essential to frequently evaluate our academic options when it comes to online learning.

Del Rio Academy is currently employing the A+ for Anywhere Learning Program from Fuel Education. This program is based on the National Common Core Curriculum in all academic subject areas. It allows the instructor access to the national curricular requirements at all grade levels from first to twelfth grade. In addition to bringing technology into the classroom, the A+ for Anywhere Learning Program also allows the teacher to place those students deemed appropriate for online instruction at his/her current level of performance in a given subject area. We then provide real time guidance and oversight. While the A+ for Anywhere Learning Program is comprehensive in regards to curricular requirements, Del Rio Academy also provides direct teaching instruction and supports in a variety of classrooms that employ different methods of individualized instruction.

Why Del Rio?


First to become a Certified NMT Partner with The ChildTrauma Academy.


Working together to provide a nurturing & clinically sophisticated approach.


Majestic New Mexico provides a variety of activities and wonders to experience.

A well-regulated brain is a learning-ready brain.

Conversely, if the brain is not well regulated, learning will be inefficient at best. Often, the initial focus for many students newly arrived at Del Rio Academy is primarily on establishing learning readiness. Achievement of this goal is made possible by providing a steady sensory diet of targeted neuro-regulatory interventions that help the sub-cortical areas of the brain maintain a calm and flexible mental state, thereby allowing access to the higher cortical areas that mediate most academic learning. Over time, co-regulation strategies become self-regulation strategies, and learning readiness gradually becomes the norm. This happens within a context of consistent care from teachers and Teachers’ Aides (TAs) who are extensively trained in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics.

All teachers and TAs are part of the treatment team, and the NMT informs the academic environment as the Neurosequential Model in Education (NME). Throughout the day prescribed neurobiological and relational interventions from the individual residents’ treatment plans are incorporated to ensure continuity of the Sandhill treatment philosophy. Maintaining a well-regulated classroom promotes learning-readiness as well as the ability to attend and absorb new information.

Often students come to us with a history of participation in special education programs and may have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) in place in the home community. We work collaboratively with the family and the home district to ensure that the IEP’s goals are addressed and relevant members of the student’s Treatment Team can participate telephonically in IEP meetings.

Meet the Staff at Del Rio Academy

Colleen Owens, B.S., B.A. – Teacher

Colleen has been in the education profession since 1992 and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of New Mexico. She also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio/TV from Ashland College (in Ohio). Originally from a small town in Western New York, Colleen has lived in Albquerque for over 25 years. Her personal interests include Zumba instruction, fun runs, and reading. Colleen values herself as a “hands on teacher” and enjoys creating challenging and fun projects for her class. She resides in Albuquerque with her husband and has two young adult children.

Carol Blackshear, M.A. – Teacher

Carol has been an educator for over 33 years. She began her career at a residential treatment center in Los Lunas as a Child Care Worker, then as an Educational Assistant. She attained her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education at the University of New Mexico, and her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education. Carol taught high school students with behavioral difficulties and subsequently elementary students with behavioral and learning challenges. Outside the classroom, she is chairman of the Land of Enchantment Children’s Booklist Committee. Carol is also a member of both the New Mexico Readers’ Association and the New Mexico Librarians’ Association. In all of her free time, she trains dogs in obedience, protection, tracking, herding, therapy, agility, and assistance. Currently Carol has seven dogs. She is also training her youngest donkey to pull a cart and she hasn’t given up completely on training the four cats. Carol loves gardening, knitting, camping, hiking, singing, art, eating, and spending time with her adult children and grandson. One of her favorite sayings, “It takes a village to raise a child, and make a teacher.”

Matthew MacQueen, M.Ed. – Principal

A lifelong New Mexican, Matthew grew up in Taos, New Mexico which directly contributed to his love of skiing and chili. He graduated with a BA in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico in 2001 and spent several years working in the film industry on various movie projects. In 2002, Matthew began working in residential treatment and quickly took to sharing his passions for sports, art, cooking and the outdoors with incredible individuals as a means for growth and skill building. In 2004 he joined the Sandhill Child Development Center team as a youth mentor. In 2008 Matthew completed a Master’s degree in Multicultural Special Education from The College of Santa Fe, and has since worn many different hats with the program as Milieu Team Leader, Teacher, Program Director, and pool boy. He loves working at Del Rio Academy and Sandhill, and being surrounded by brave people who are committed to learning and helping children. In his free time, Matthew can be found skiing, hiking, running, biking, walking his dogs all over the high desert, and exploring the globe with his wife, family and friends.

Tour Del Rio Aademy