BY JOHN MCCURDY / Managing Editor //

At the Motivation, Dedication, Excellence (MDE) School for children who learn differently, owner-director Mindy Elkan is proud that she’s kept her promise to parents by maintaining a four-to-one staff-to-student ratio.

The MDE School’s Lindsey Valenly works closely with a student. PHOTO / MDE School

The MDE School’s Lindsey Valenly works closely with a student. PHOTO / MDE School

But in the end, it isn’t the faculty’s numbers – nor their excellent qualifications – that truly sets them apart.

“Forget all their credentials, they’re just an amazing, compassionate group,” Elkan said. “They’re not doing this for the money; they’re doing it for the love of the kids. They wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Elkan, a speech-language pathologist, founded the MDE School in 2009 in memory of her late husband, Marc David Elkan. The mission from the institution’s inception has been to serve students within a spectrum of learning disabilities and differences by providing a truly complete curriculum in a supportive, caring environment.

Four years in, the formula has proven extremely effective. Attendees – both those at MDE for all four years and those new – show remarkable gains.

“We’ve seen incredible progress with all of our children,” Elkan said. “Academically, socially – which is just as important in this world – each one of them has come a long way.”

Just as each child is different, the staff’s approach and the method for measuring success vary.

“Some parents will tell you that they never thought their child would read, but now he or she is,” Elkan said. “Other children came to us not saying a single word, and now they’re speaking.”

The expansion of programs (not to mention student body, from 7 to 21) has allowed for improvement upon an already-excellent methodology. By incorporating art therapy and an improvisational social skills course alongside the music therapy, occupational therapy, physical education and traditional subject offerings, it is really the whole child that is nurtured, and not just one particular facet.

And with the accreditation process complete, MDE and the education it bestows qualify just like any others in the state of Georgia. In other words, should the fit be right, special needs children – whether displaced by the Amit Program’s recent closing or simply not served adequately by another public or private school – can find a home here.

“These kids are a family among themselves, and our parents become a family, and the school itself is a family,” Elkan smiled.

To find out if the MDE School is right for your child, come to the upcoming Open House on Wed., Feb. 6, 7 p.m., to be held at the school (1000 Johnson Ferry Rd., Suite A100). Parents can also visit mdeschool.com or call (770) 971-4633 for more information.