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After 35 Years, Dewey Starts a New Chapter under New Ownership

As you may know, on March 16, 2020, we made the difficult decision to close our campus temporarily due to COVID 19.  Students left the school on March 17th and 18th, and staff shutdown on-site operations on March 20th.  We have been in a remote learning and clinical program ever since — constantly evolving to address the needs of the students in changing circumstances. This has been a new and different experience for everyone, and the staff and students have done an amazing job of being flexible, creative and proactive. We are in awe of everyone’s dedication and efforts to keep the community strong as we weather this storm. It is clear that through the darkest of times and the most agonizing struggles, we often arrive at the greatest opportunities for growth.

John Dewey Academy was founded in 1985 by Tom and Carole Bratter with the dream of offering a different path to struggling teens. In 2012, after Tom passed away, the school carried on and remained committed to continuing his legacy despite significant challenges. Last month, in the face of the global pandemic the Board of Directors made the difficult decision to close permanently at the end of the semester, and I decided to take the opportunity to try and acquire the school and continue its legacy.  Working closely with our Primary Clinician and Clinical Director Megan Czaja, the Bratter family, and other advisors, we were able to find a solution. I’m pleased to announce that as of May 1, 2020, I am not only the Head of School, I’m also the owner.

Megan and David
Megan and David keeping a safe distance at the castle.

We are certain that we can continue providing quality academic and therapeutic services safely. We believe whole-heartedly in pursuing purpose, resiliency and perseverance through the pandemic and beyond, and remain committed to the health and well-being of current and future students. Our world needs moral leaders today more than ever, and Dewey will continue to provide the high-caliber academics and value-driven therapeutic services needed to help young people strive for excellence in times of adversity. 

35 years ago, Tom and Carole Bratter planted a seed of hope at Searles Castle. Since then Dewey’s roots have grown deep and strong; they will hold steady even as we evolve and shift to accommodate our new world. Together with the help of medical professionals, we have created a plan to keep staff and students safe during COVID 19. We are following CDC best practices and consulting with local healthcare providers on all protocols. Current students will be returning to school on May 13th and we will begin welcoming new students at the end of the month.

Our focus will remain on delivering the optimal combination of academics, therapeutics, and pragmatics, but Megan and I will also take this opportunity to reflect, plan and rebuild based upon the evolving needs of our students and the new and continually changing norms of our society.

Building resiliency together…

David E Baum, PhD
Head of School

Megan Czaja, LICSW
Primary Clinician & Clinical Director

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