Dr. Sigurd Zielke

June 7th, 2019

Hope Academy was saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Sigurd Zielke this week. “Dr. Z” has been a force for recovery with years of Hope Academy students as well as contributing significantly to the research and treatment of adolescent addiction. I couldn’t have started this school without Sig.  “We are a leader in the recovery school movement because of his commitment to research and making sure we put it into practice,” says Rachelle Gardner, Hope Academy’s COO of the school she co-founded with Dr. Zielke. “He was always an advocate for the students and, boy, did they love him. He will always have a special place in our hearts here at Hope.”

While at Hope Academy, Dr. Zielke also was instrumental in creating the Adolescent Addiction, Learning and Recovery Project, which provide recovery high school (RHS) educators/ practitioners, and other professionals who facilitate student recovery with relevant information about substance-impacted (SI) students and recovery; practical strategies and tools to enhance student sobriety, learning, school success, and personal development; and professional studies and links.


Dr. Zielke was a graduate of Biola University, Wheaton College, Ashland University, and Fuller Theological Seminary. In 2001, the Indiana Counseling Association named him Mental Health Counselor of the Year.

Throughout his long and distinguished career, Dr. Zielke has worked with children, youth and adults in a number of capacities—primarily as a therapist and clinical consultant.

In addition to his experience with children and adolescents under the care of a psychiatric hospital, he worked with students and teachers in public and private schools, including Hope Academy. He has conducted observational studies in thousands of classrooms in the Midwest, and has used this qualitative research to guide his understanding of children’s needs and our role as adults.

His unique perspective resulted in successful interventions both in schools and clinical settings for children and youth with behavioral concerns. His workshops and keynote speeches have influenced hundreds of groups of professionals in the fields of mental health, education, juvenile justice, law enforcement, and nursing.