MileStone Academy has been a vision of Kathy Hunt’s since she founded Center School 25 years ago. With the help of Carol Wolf, who was Admissions Director at Center School for 21 years, Jean Balazs, a certified reading specialist, and two alumni parents, they finally accomplished their goal!
Realizing a Need
In 1989, Kathy Hunt, a mother of a son who had language-based learning difficulties, forged a relationship with several mothers who were all facing the same problems. They had children who were capable of succeeding but struggled in the academic arena. The private school, whose teaching approach proved successful for their children, was closing and there was no alternative for these students. Kathy led the group of parents and the closing school’s teaching staff to open a new school, Center School. Throughout her twenty-four years at Center School, Kathy always had the desire to expand the grade levels to include high school so that more students could be assisted in their academic development. In 2012, Kathy Hunt left Center School to achieve her dream, creating a high school for students with language-based learning difficulties and others who just needed a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn was her new mission.
Kathy saw a need and is now working with the other founders of MileStone Academy to realize this mission. They are a mix of professionals who have been educating children with language-based learning disabilities for over 25 years, as well as, parents of children with language-based learning disabilities. The Board members of MileStone all concur there are numerous students of high school age in the greater Philadelphia area who would benefit from this type of educational environment.
In preparing for this dream, our research found a significant number of studies showing the need for language-based learning. There are multiple studies that show that students who score below proficient in standardized reading test by third grade are less likely to graduate high school by age 19. The reading scores for 4th graders in Philadelphia showed that 86% of them scored basic or below in 2011, and 64% of students graduated on time in 2013. Studies show the factors affecting low reading scores are many including class size, teacher qualifications, and socioeconomic factors such as family structure, neighborhoods and poverty. We know that many children with language-based learning disabilities are not identified and are pushed from one grade to the next without the proper intervention or support. Most educational systems are cookie-cutter programs that do not focus on individual students’ learning styles or needs. Studies show that successful people are confident not because they are more intelligent, but because they are more resourceful and aware of their strengths and weaknesses.
In 2015, the MileStone Academy team was excited to announce the opening of Milestone Academy for the 2015-2016 academic year.