Morningside Academy in SLU is “Celebrating 30 Years of Changing Lives” with a gala dinner and auction on March 19, 2010. The private, non-profit elementary and middle school has 80 full-time students with learning differences, who benefit from the small class sizes and high academic expectations. These are students that are often overlooked in traditional schools, because they do not have significant emotional problems or developmental delays. However, they fail to thrive academically and often experience a plummet in self-esteem.
“People support Morningside because we are unique,” said Dawn Oliver, Director of Admission and Development. Seven years ago, Oliver searched for an alternative school for her own daughter and relocated from the east coast to enroll in Morningside Academy. After attending Morningside for 6 years, her daughter transitioned to public middle school and is getting A’s. Oliver reflected, “The ultimate goal of the program is for students to be successful for the rest of their lives.”
Oliver says the school is unique because students are grouped by skill level and not age; the teachers are highly trained to be effective, completing 9-12 graduate hours plus 2.5 hours per week in ongoing training in the model by founder Dr. Kent Johnson. The techniques are research-based for students with learning disabilities.
“People don’t like to talk about it because there is a shame in being labeled ‘learning disabled’. You feel less in some ways,” says Blue Lazarou. She was a Morningside student 28 years ago and now is a parent of 9 year-old Mia, who attends Morningside. “She is a perfectly normal kid who could not wrap her mind around what was being taught in school. I was told by her teachers in public school not to expect much academic achievement from Mia,” Lazarou said.
But Lazarou knew who to call. “When I walked back into this school while touring for my daughter, I literally cried. The techniques I was taught here, I needed for the rest of my life. It changed my life.”
Morningside Academy estimates that they have changed the lives of 20,000 children, when you consider 30 years of full time school, summer session, and the outreach done by the Morningside Teachers’ Academy. More than 90 schools and agencies partner with Morningside for teacher training and instructional consulting.
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This year’s gala auction and 30th Anniversary will be celebrated in the Dome Room at the Doubletree Arctic Club Hotel in downtown Seattle. Well-known Seattle talents, Auctioneer John Curley and Master of Ceremonies Jim Dever, will entertain the crowd. All the proceeds—they hope to make $100,000—will go to the scholarship fund to help needy students and to the direct support of the school and its programs.