McKay Academic Center

Maximizing Students’ God-Given Potential

Support. Connect. Engage. Challenge. Inspire. Those are just a few words that describe what happens in the McKay Academic Center. As a college preparatory school with high academic standards, Dunham serves students who are capable of performing advanced academic work. We understand that each student learns differently and believe those differences should be honored in the classroom. We also recognize that some students will need services beyond those provided in the traditional classroom.

Ashley McIlwain

Director of the McKay Academic Center

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Employed at Dunham since
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Louisiana State University, 2004
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Louisiana State University, 2018
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Ashley McIlwain
Director of the McKay Academic Center

We've designed the McKay Academic Center for Excellence (MAC) as a place where students who learn differently can receive the support they need to succeed academically, whether that need is for accommodations and services designed to help a student keep pace in the traditional college preparatory classroom or through a specialized classroom environment for the student with more specific academic needs. The MAC is not a separate entity from The Dunham School but is an integral part of our school community. Our entire faculty and staff—division heads, teachers, reading specialists, and tutors—work together to help our students maximize their God-given potential for greater academic success.

Our Services

Please use the links below to learn more about the services offered through the McKay Academic Center. For more information about any of these services, please contact the McKay Academic Center at 225-767-7097 ext. 307. We welcome your questions and would be happy to explain our services in greater detail.

Homework Helpers


Second through sixth grade students may participate in Homework Helpers, an after-school program that provides a quiet place to complete homework, monitored by a proctor who helps students stay on task and offers reasonable assistance with assignments.

Tutoring & Academic Coaching


The Mac offers tutoring services for students who need additional academic support to be successful in their college preparatory coursework. For some of our students this means subject specific tutoring, while for others, it involves assistance with organization and time management. Tutors act as academic coaches for many students by developing weekly plans for homework completion, setting academic goals, monitoring progress, and addressing study skill needs. Tutors communicate with parents on a regular basis, typically every two weeks or more frequently if necessary.

Reading & Dyslexia Remediation


Reading specialists, including academic language therapists and dyslexia tutors, work with students diagnosed with dyslexia, as well as students without a diagnosis who struggle with reading and spelling skills. Explicit instruction is provided through an Orton-Gillingham approach, a multi-sensory instructional method proven effective for learners with difficulties in reading, spelling, and writing.

Individual & Small Group Courses


Individual and small group courses, also referred to as MAC classes, are available for students who need consistent and in-depth help to successfully complete our college preparatory program. These classes follow the school's curriculum but allow for different pacing and instruction methods to maximize student success and achievement.

Compensation Program


A limited number of compensation classes are offered for students who require a more comprehensive, specialized classroom environment due to specific learning differences such as high-functioning autism, sensory integration disorders, and language-based learning differences.

Inclusion is an integral part of the compensation program. Every effort is made to move students toward increased participation in the traditional classroom. Based on progress, some students move from the compensation setting to the traditional classroom with appropriate MAC support as needed; other students continue to have most of their academic needs met in the compensation program.

Students' social, emotional, and adaptive skills are also developed through the following compensation program components:

  • Social skills class
  • Peer mentoring
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Sensory and behavioral strategies
  • Communication skill enhancement
  • Work ethic and independence development
  • Academic and life skills connections

Please note that the compensation program is small by design and may not accommodate all ages each year. Individual consultation with the Dunham Admissions Office and the staff of the McKay Academic Center, as well as a current psycho-educational evaluation, are required to determine the possibility of enrollment.

Additional Academic Support Services


Based on individual student needs, the MAC offers other academic support services, including out-of-class testing, shadowing, and classroom accommodations. For more information on these services, please contact Ashley McIlwain, Director of the McKay Academic Center.

Applying to the McKay Academic Center

Current Families
Students currently enrolled in The Dunham School are eligible to receive services from the MAC and do not have to go through a formal admissions process. However, it may be necessary to schedule a meeting to determine the nature of services required, an in some cases, a student will need to obtain an Ed/Psych evaluation. Parents of current students should contact Ashley McIlwain, director of the McKay Academic Center, at 225-767-7097 ext. 380 to inquire about obtaining services.

Prospective Students
Parents of prospective students should begin the admissions process by contacting the Dunham Admissions Office at 225-767-7097 ext. 324. Please be prepared to provide basic information about your child and his or her school history, as well as documentation and other information about specific learning needs. In addition, students applying for admission to the Compensation Program are required to provide a current Ed/Psych evaluation (completed within the last three years). Applicants will follow the same admissions process as outlined on our Applying to Dunham page and will be asked to come to campus for interviews and testing. Please note that the Compensation Program is small by design and may not accommodate all ages each year. Individual consultation with the Admissions Office and the staff of the McKay Academic Center will be necessary to determine the possibility of enrollment.

The Dunham School has a long-standing policy of non-discrimination and admits students of any race or ethnic origin to all of the rights, privileges, programs, and activities accorded students at the School.

McKay Tuition & Fees

MAC Services


Academic Tutoring*
$55 per hour

Reading/Dyslexia Remediation*
$65 per hour

Homework Helpers
$240 per quarter after school for grades 1-4; $255 for grades 5-8

$20 per hour; $15 per hour for Compensation students

Accommodations: Out-of-Class Testing and Extended-Time Testing:
Fees are determined on a sliding scale and are dependent upon the degree of assistance needed for the particular test. The fees that may be charged are $10; $15; or $35 per test.

MAC Courses**
$7,000 annually (one student)
$6,000 annually (two students)
$5,000 annually (three students)
$4,000 annually (four or five students)

*Fees for Academic Tutoring, Reading/Dyslexia Remediation, and Shadowing are reduced when two or more students grouped together.

**A maximum of five students may be scheduled into individual MAC courses; fees are billed by the month and are adjusted when others join or drop the class.

Compensation Program


2023-2024 Tuition
Compensation I Tuition (grades K-2)* - $30,600
Compensation II Tuition (grades 2-8) - $29,500
Transitions Tuition (grades 9-12) - $28,430

Re-enrollment Fee
$300 (non-refundable; due Jan. 31; increases to $550 after Jan. 31)

Technology Fee
$575 (PK4-12 only)

Dining Fees
$880 (grades K-4)
$1,090 (grades 5-8)
$1,190 (grades 9-12)

Facilities Fee
$300 (grades PK3-12)

Students enrolled in the Compensation Program are provided a variety of extra fee-based services that may be added to their tuition. These services may include, but are not limited to, shadows, tutors, out-of-class testing, or other services specific to the individual student's needs.

*Grade 2 placement in Compensation I or II is dependent on the individual student's needs.

"My teachers match instruction to my individualized needs so I can learn and be successful. I am confident because I know I'm smart, too."
- Dunham Upper School Student

Helpful Resources

Explore Dunham


Our PreK3-4th grade program is the perfect blend of a classical education combined with technology, innovation, and cross-cultural literacy.



Our 5th-8th grade program balances academics with athletics and arts in preparation for the rigor and expectations of Upper School.



Our high school program prepares students for success in college and career through academic rigor, athletics, arts, and leadership.



Our athletic program unleashes confidence and enables students to compete at the highest level - on and off of the field.



Outstanding theater, dance, visual arts, and music offerings inspire creativity, confidence, and a lifelong appreciation for the arts.



The Dunham experience rests upon a foundation of faith as we strive to educate our students' minds and hearts for Christ.


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