Empowering Bright Teens
The mission of John Dewey Academy is to empower bright but underachieving adolescents to overcome social, emotional and academic challenges to attend quality colleges and lead healthy, productive, and successful lives.
Turning Lives Around
John Dewey Academy is a residential, college preparatory, year-round high school designed for high-potential students who have not been succeeding in school and life. Despite intelligence and talent, our students have lost sight of their genuine goals and passions. The school’s educational program provides what these students need in order to turn their lives around: a structured environment, a caring community, and a positive peer culture. Together, these elements can help students learn to face their problems and make life-affirming choices.
What Sets Us Apart
The Dewey Difference
What is it that makes John Dewey Academy work?
Small, Caring Community: We have always capped our admissions at approximately 30 students because we are intentional about creating an intimate environment in which every student can feel truly seen and known. We are also highly selective about what student is right for us. Whether it’s in the peer group or the classroom setting, our small size sets us apart and provides us the opportunity to know our students and families deeply.
Student Leadership and Empowerment: Our students are given a tremendous amount of responsibility, with opportunities to try new things, develop important leadership skills, and feel a sense of pride for a job well done. As much as possible, we give space for trusted student leaders to “run the school” including planning, ordering, and preparing nutritious meals for the entire school; maintaining the vast grounds; cleaning and maintaining their “home”; supervising study halls; working with faculty to serve as student advisors and tutors; coordinating and implementing student life activities; tending to the community garden; coordinating community service projects; and serving in the business or IT department.
Outstanding Academic Program: Our students require a degree of academic challenge and support that is qualitatively different from many other therapeutic programs. Because most of our students have been (or could be) identified as “gifted” or “twice-exceptional,” we know that our faculty must provide a differentiated curriculum that meets individual student needs for acceleration, remediation, and unique interests, as appropriate. Because of our accomplished and inspiring faculty, along with a low student-to-teacher ratio, we are able to provide unique learning opportunities that are often a mix of college-level learning with remedial support services.
100% Quality College Acceptance: We have always aimed to prepare our students to succeed at colleges that are commensurate with students’ capabilities and interests. Since 1985, our graduates have had a 100% acceptance rate to colleges on par with most traditional college preparatory schools. We continue to work hard to prepare our students, build relationships with colleges, and continue JDA’s impressive reputation for college placement.
An Alternative to the Psychiatric Paradigm: Perhaps one of the most unique features of our approach is that we do not rely on psychotropic medications to help adolescents mature, as we do not inherently believe that there is a pill that will cure immaturity, heal trauma, or resolve the pain of disconnection. While we recognize that there may be times and situations in which the use of psychotropic medication may be useful, we have 30+ years of experience of effectively supporting long-term youth development without resorting to medications that have serious negative side effects.