Executive Director’s Letter
I spent most of my career as a speech pathologist. I saw how children struggling with disabilities blossomed and made great strides forward with 1:1 therapy. My late husband, Marc, who was also a speech pathologist, and I often discussed how beneficial it would be if there were a school for special needs children based on the principles of small class size, 1:1 instruction, and a flexible classroom atmosphere. It was our dream to open such a school together.
Unfortunately, opening a school together was not in the cards for Marc and me. He passed away suddenly in 2008. As I grieved and healed over the next year, I felt inspired to go forward with our dream of a special needs school and open one in memory of him. That dream came true when I founded and opened MDE School in 2009.
The letters MDE are not only my late husband’s initials. Marc David Elkan, but also a mnemonic device for character qualities he exemplified throughout his life. These are the traits I wanted my staff and students to embrace – Motivation, Dedication, and Excellence.
The educational foundation Marc and I discussed was the foundation that I established at MDE School. Children learn best when they are in a small class. That is why MDE School offers a 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio. I have found over the years that this is the ideal construct. A 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio allows our students to interact, practice social skills, and learn to cooperate with one another while doing group activities. It also allows our teachers the bandwidth to work 1:1 with each student on their academics.
At MDE School, we also embrace a flexible classroom environment that allows our students to learn the way each of them learns best. We tap into their individual strengths to help them achieve their academic goals.
Our desire is to help our students become as independent as they are capable of becoming. We have enjoyed many success stories, where our students grow and develop to a point where they can attend another school with less support. Many students remained with us through their school years are now entering young adulthood. I wanted to continue to support them.
That’s why we expanded in 2021 and opened MDE Vocational Academy on our same campus. Here we continue to help our dear students aged 16 to 22 set goals and reach their full potential. We focus on teaching them the life and vocational skills they will need as they enter early adulthood.
What’s next for MDE School? I am full of ideas on how to continue to expand to meet the needs of our students. MDE School is my passion, and the students are my heart.
Executive Director, MDE School