McKay Academic Center

Programs & Services


McKay Programs & Services

The Dunham School is a college-preparatory institution.  We admit students who are willing and capable of performing advanced academic work. We believe that each student learns differently, and that those differences should be honored in the classroom.  The goal of our school is to educate each student individually.  To that end, our faculty is provided professional development opportunities in instructional and curricular differentiation.

Even with such an approach, we also recognize that some students will need services beyond those provided in the traditional classroom.  For these learners, we offer different types of academic services through the McKay Academic Center for Excellence (MAC).

1.  Advanced Learning/College Placement - We provide on-campus initial screenings for true intellectual giftedness, with the goal of identifying students in the early grades. Full-time MAC faculty teach small classes of gifted and high achieving students in year-long, accelerated courses in the Lower and Middle Schools.  For those students who are ready for the challenge, we also provide opportunities to accelerate their educational pace through individual courses taught one-on-one, online courses, and in Middle and Upper School, Honors and Advanced Placement Courses. Students in the Advanced Learning Program and all Upper School students (along with their parents) work closely with the College Placement Office to carefully plan a challenging course of study that will prepare them to be competitive in pursuing scholarships and admission to selective universities.

2. Tutoring – Our tutors help students who are lacking in specific skills needed to be successful in their coursework. For some students, this involves subject-specific tutoring. Other students may need assistance to "keep up" with their overall workload and improve their organizational and study skills so that they can be more successful in the classroom. Tutoring is available for students of all ages. Our tutors have expertise in specific subjects and are assigned according to specific student needs and tutor expertise.

3. Academic Support Services – Several types of academic support services are available through the MAC. Students must have a current psycho-educational evaluation with a specific diagnosis of a learning difference to qualify for these services. Out-of class testing, shadowing, and individualized classroom accommodations are available, based on the student’s needs.

4.  Reading/Dyslexia Remediation - Reading specialists (which include Academic Language Therapists, Dyslexia tutors, and other reading specialists) provide explicit instruction using an Orton- Gillingham approach to teach reading and spelling skills. This explicit and multisensory instructional method for teaching the sound system of the English language is effective for students who are diagnosed with Dyslexia and for students who are simply struggling with reading/spelling skills.

5. Coaching – An academic coach is assigned to an Upper School student by parent request and/or principal recommendation. The coach checks on assignments and grades through iNow (the school’s student information system) each day and communicates with the teachers as needed. Coaches meet with their students once a week, discussing progress and making plans for  future work.  The Coach also communicates with parents via email or telephone once every two weeks or more frequently if required.

6. Individual and Small Group Courses - The Dunham School offers individual and small group courses for students in Lower, Middle, and Upper School.  These MAC courses are available for both students who may benefit from a more challenging course of study and for students who need consistent and in-depth help in accessing our college-preparatory curriculum.  These courses, taught by qualified Dunham faculty, follow Dunham’s curriculum but allow for different pacing and instructional methods. (Prior to the Upper School years, Developmental Courses are also available in this setting, to provide academic remediation in a specific academic area.) MAC courses require Division Head approval.

7. Compensation - A limited number of classes are provided for students who require a more comprehensive specialized learning environment due to their specific learning differences.  The goal of these classes is to provide appropriate, individualized academic services in a prescribed manner so as to move students to more and more participation in the traditional classroom, as their individual progress allows.  These multi-level classes have limited enrollment, and are appropriate for students with a variety of learning challenges (such as language-based learning differences, high functioning Autism, Sensory Integration Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Delays and other similar diagnoses). These classes are staffed by a lead teacher and an assistant teacher. A current psychoeducational evaluation is required for placement in a compensation class.  

8. Homework Helpers -  An after-school program is offered for students in 2nd through 6th grades that provides a quiet place to complete homework. Our Homework Helper proctor offers support to the students to help them stay on-task and provides reasonable assistance.  Homework Helpers provides supervision and support;  however, it is not a tutoring program.