The McKay Academic Center for Excellence:
Maximizing Students God-Given Potential
for Greater Academic Success
Support. Connect. Engage. Challenge. Inspire. Those are just a few words that describe what happens in the McKay Academic Center. As a PK3-12th grade college preparatory school with high academic standards, Dunham serves students who are capable of performing advanced academic work. We understand that each student learns differently and believe those differences should be honored in the classroom. We also recognize that some students will need services beyond those provided in the traditional classroom.
The prevalence of learning differences in school-aged children and adolescents is well-documented. Estimates indicate that more than 20 percent of any school's population, if diagnosed properly, has quantifiable learning differences. Yet, few programs in the Baton Rouge area provide the academic support to help children succeed.
Dunham has designed the McKay Academic Center (MAC) as a place where students who learn differentlly can recieve the support they need to succeed academically, whether that need is for accommodations and services to help a student keep pace in the traditional classroom or through a specialized classroom environment for the student with more specific academic needs.
The MAC is not a separate entity from The Dunham School but is an integral part of our school community. Our entire faculty and staff - division heads, teachers, reading specialists, and tutors work together to help our students maximize their God-given potential for greater academic success.
Tutoring and Academic Coaching:
The Mac offers tutoring services for students who need additional academic support to be successful in their college preparatory coursework. For some of our students this means subject specific tutoring, while for others, it involves assistance with organization and time management. Tutors act as academic coaches for many students by developing weekly plans for homework completion, setting academic goals, monitoring progress, and addressing study skill needs. Tutors communicate with parents on a regular basis, typically every two weeks or more frequently if necessary.
Second through sixth grade students may participate in Homework Helpers, an after-school program that provides a quiet place to complete homework, monitored by a proctor who helps students stay on task and offers reasonable assistance with assignments.
Individual and Small Group Courses:
Individual and small group courses, also referred to as MAC classes, are available for students who need consistent and in-depth help to successfully complete our college preparatory program. These classes follow the school's curriculum but allow for different pacing and instruction methods to maximize student success and achievement.
Reading and Dyslexia Remediation:
Reading specialists, including academic language therapists and dyslexia tutors, work with students diagnosed with dyslexia, as well as students without a diagnosis who struggle with reading and spelling skills. Explicit instruction is provided through an Orton-Gillingham approach, a multi-sensory instructional method proven effective for learners with difficulties in reading, spelling, and writing.
Additional Academic Support:
Based on individual student needs, the MAC offers other academic support services, including out-of-class testing, shadowing, and classroom accommodations.
The McKay Academic Center for Excellence offers a limited number of compensation classes for students who require a more comprehensive, specialized classroom environment due to specific learning differences such as high-functioning autism, sensory integration disorders, language-based learning differences, and pervasive developmental delays.
Inclusion is an integral part of the compensation program. Every effort is made to move students toward increased participation in the traditional classroom. Based on progress, some students move from the compensation setting to the traditional classroom with appropriate MAC support as needed; other students continue to have most of their academic needs met in the compensation program.
Students' social, emotional, and adaptive skills are also developed through the following compensation program components:
- Social skills class
- Peer mentoring
- Extracurricular activities
- Sensory and behavioral strategies
- Communication skill enhancement
- Work ethic and independence development
- Academic and life skills connections
To learn more about any of the services offered through the McKay Academic Center, please contact Barbara Germany, director of the McKay Center for Excellence.