Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification, Thought Reform => The Troubled Teen Industry => Topic started by: Ursus on December 28, 2010, 06:36:00 PM

Title: Gables Academy
Post by: Ursus on December 28, 2010, 06:36:00 PM
Gables Academy, a Christian program originally for learning disabled kids, has been around since 1961. At various times it appears to have entered into contractual arrangements with and/or incorporated other programs. Here's the Founder's brief bio:

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Dr. James D. Meffen (http://


"Every child can succeed!"

In the process of completing his doctoral dissertation in Psychology, James D. Meffen encountered a bright, pretty, popular child who seemed to have everything, including caring and attentive parents. But "Kati" was failing, frustrated and in danger of losing her brightness and positive outlook on life. The child's plight touched this educator and he resolved then to find a way students like Kati would not become lost. The first discovery he made was, despite her intelligence, Kati could not read.

Dr. Meffen began searching for answers, not accepting the popular theory of the 1950s that children with learning difficulty who were otherwise "normal" had psychological problems. He began postdoctoral studies at the University of Miami in the diagnosis and remediation of reading disabilities. His studies enthralled him as he discovered, first hand, that individualized instruction could work wonders with these "reading difficulty" children. He was dismayed to discover that traditional schools were failing miserably to meet these students' needs. More often than not, these children were labeled "backward" and continued to struggle through regular school work they simply did not understand.

In a leap of faith, and with eight willing students, in 1961, Gables Academy began operation in Coral Gables, Florida. In less than a year, Gables Academy and Dr. Meffen were becoming known nationwide as leading innovators in the field giving hope back to children with learning disabilities and learning difficulties. Dr. Meffen was consulted by educators across the nation, and was written up in many publications as one of the most outstanding educators in America. The first national television program about learning disabilities featured the Florida Gables Academy.

What grew to eventually ten schools operating under the Gables Academy umbrella has now been compacted into the campus in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Dr. Meffen continues to serve as Educator Emeritus to the school. Dr. Meffen currently lives in Australia with his wife Anne and makes yearly trips back to the states. He just can't stay away from the little miracle, Gables Academy.

Copyright Gables Academy Internacionale 2001
Title: Gables Academy - Methodology & Curriculum
Post by: Ursus on December 30, 2010, 02:13:27 AM
Methodology & Curriculum (http://

The Gables program is designed to meet two specific needs. One emphasis is that of basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics, stressing the necessary academic requisites for success in academic, vocational, or career pursuits. The second approach tends to the needs of the child or adolescent who has mastered the basic skills, but appears unmotivated to learn in a typical learning environment.

Specialized corrective instruction is necessary to compensate for specific learning differences. The emphasis for the child or adolescent is to strengthen the basic skill areas through increased proficiency of learning. These goals are accomplished through teaching to the student's strengths in an overall six to one pupil-teacher ratio. Each student will receive both individualized corrective or remedial instruction along with larger group instruction. This larger group instruction focuses on those skills the student will need in the regular mainstream of education, including notetaking, listening comprehension, study skills as well as social skills. As is so often common, awkward social skills often go hand in hand with specific learning differences. It is often times for this specific reason that parents enroll thier children in Gables Academy. What better place to activate more appropriate social skills than in a small, loving, family-type environment. For an even greater focus on social skills, Gables Academy functions as an immersion type situation. Similar to learning a foreign language, what better place to learn such a skill than in an environment where you daily must practice that skill with your peers.

Gables Academy's faculty consists of those certified to teach in the state of Georgia. A majority of the faculty members boast years of experience in teaching and nurturing the special needs student. The school is headed by James D. Meffen, III, M.S. Ed, with a support staff of specially trained administrative, academic, and therapeutic personnel.

Students at Gables Academy have available to them a licensed psychotherapist who visits the campus for individual and group sessions. These sessions are offered each week by the psychotherapist. When indicated, appointments are scheduled with a speech therapist or specialized tutor.

In addition to regular conventional physical education activities, each student participates in an outdoor challenge program which develops self-confidence and coordination, along with problem solving skills. These problem solving skills elicit the appropriate social interactions necessary for success in today's society. Gables students may participate in organized sports, which are played against other schools in a private school athletic conference. In keeping with ancient Greek tradition, the sports program addresses mind, body, and spirit. Healthy, structured competition in team sports such as basketball and soccer and individual sports such as tennis, golf, cross country, and track allow students to rise above themselves spiritually learning self-sacrifice in an effort to achieve the greater good. A blossoming fine arts program offers adventures in visual, literary, and performing arts. A full vocational program focusing on trades is in its infancy.


Gables Academy's faculty are state certified professionals.

Each class is designed to prepare the student with functional, practical adult living skills side by side with appropriate academics.

Gables Academy continues to develop an unsurpassed lower, middle and high school curriculum with a cohesive interface based in experience.

Documented success with:

Copyright Gables Academy Internacionale 2001
Title: Gables Academy - Staff
Post by: Ursus on December 30, 2010, 06:52:22 PM
James D. Meffen, III (http://


"I would not know what to do with kids who could learn in traditional ways!"

James D. (Jim) Meffen, III holds a Masters degree in Education with an emphasis on Reading, and is a doctoral candidate in Educational Psychology at Georgia State University. The son of founder Dr. James Meffen, Mr. Meffen has been intricately involved in Gables Academy in a myriad of ways since 1961. He moved naturally into a leadership position with the school in the 1970s. Special education and the kids therein are the love of his life.

Carol A. Clark (http://
Administrative Assistant
Parent/Student Liaison


"I do my job as unto the Lord, therefore you will always have my best."

Ms. Clark, prior to entering the world of children as a professional, spent ten years in sales. The following ten years were spent in youth ministry after she became certified in pastoral counseling and worked at Sanford School. Her path at Gables leads her through frequent contact with students and parents. She works with the public and alongside staff and faculty as she cheerfully meets the demands of the school's administration offices.

Betty Cooper Hirt (http://
Director of Special Projects
Teaches: Acting, Creative Dramatics, Creative Writing, Yearbook


"Love is all there is."

"Ms. B" came to Gables after nearly ten years as educational director at a major Georgia fine arts center and years in arts education. Her background includes over twenty years as a professional actress, and as a playwright she has seen four of her works produced. She was educated at Western Carolina University and North Carolina School of the Arts. Coming from a background in the non-profit business world, Ms. B directs special projects for the school such as grant writing, fundraising, off-campus activities and experiential ed adventures. For Ms. B, the bottom line: "It's always about the children."

Patricia Orrego (http://
Director of Computer Lab, Teacher
Teaches: Elementary Education, Spanish and Keyboarding


Ms. Orrego, a native of Bogota, Columbia, has been teaching Spanish for five years. Her gentle, friendly approach to teaching her native language, and her firm grasp of the English language, offers students an accurate, clear and exciting approach to Spanish. With her gentle yet firm approach to the classroom, Ms. Orrego has become lead teacher in the self-contained upper elementary school.

Rene Capistrano (http://
Plant Manager / Caretaker


Rene, a native of the Phillipines, arrived in the United States in 1986 and has been taking care of Gables campuses, students, faculty and staff ever since. His long career has included experiences which have added to the skills and talents Rene displays at Gables. While still in his native country he worked for the US Coast Guard as a cook. He has worked as a machinist and has many years experience in construction. Rene can be found on Gables' campus working at things to help the school function more efficiently, from draining and cleaning the one-acre pond, to repairing anything broken. As with any man of his stature, all of the students love him.

Suzi Marsh (http://


Suzi began her career in 1983 as an inpatient drug counselor for adolescents. In 1992 she earned her Master's Degree in social work from Ohio State University where she had worked in the field of codependency. For over ten years, Suzi has been in private practice in the Atlanta area, helping groups, families, teens and adults face their issues and create positive change. Suzi hosts her own mental health radio show on WSB 98.5 FM and is working with Gables Academy students to develop a community TV show for families. Her most impressive personal credential for teaching people about change is the fact that Suzi recovered from teenage drug and alcohol addiction at the age of 23. Her philosophy of life and training was stolen from a bumper sticker: "Let's put the fun back in dysfunctional!"

Linda M. Stith, M.S. (http://
Director of Academics


Ms. Stith has experienced thirty-one years as a highly successful and loved teacher. Thirteen years were spent as an educational thereapist for teenagers in a psychiatric hospital. She has also spent the last seven years working with preadolescents and teens in a special education setting, helping kids who are LD, ADHD and in various stages of recovery succeed.

Copyright Gables Academy Internacionale 2001
Title: Re: Gables Academy
Post by: Rusty Goat on January 05, 2011, 12:13:10 AM
Was there one of these in Plantation FL back in 1976/7 or so? I was relegated to a "Gables Academy" on the campus of Florida Air Academy there in Plantation that year. It was a couple hours day for reading comprehension. I don't think I learned anything special though, lol, but I definitely wasn't abused.
Title: Re: Gables Academy
Post by: Ursus on January 05, 2011, 10:26:37 AM
Quote from: "Rusty Goat"
Was there one of these in Plantation FL back in 1976/7 or so? I was relegated to a "Gables Academy" on the campus of Florida Air Academy there in Plantation that year. It was a couple hours day for reading comprehension. I don't think I learned anything special though, lol, but I definitely wasn't abused.
It could well be that you went to one of the "eventually ten schools operating under the Gables Academy umbrella," especially if it was for something like reading comprehension.

As to your contention of a lack of abuse, I dare say that the likelihood goes down when it's just a class for a few hours a day. It may or may not have been different if you were enrolled in one of their residential programs.

However, it is also my impression that this organization may have changed over the years. The ballooning up to ten schools, especially during the time period in question, suggests to me that Gables may have started expanding their targeted student profile to include kids who were not only learning disabled or challenged, but perhaps "behaviorally challenged" as well. This is strictly postulation on my part, I don't actually have any first hand or even third hand knowledge of that.

At any rate, the way things stand now, Gables Academy does present itself as treating both of these (ofttimes overlapping) populations. And it also appears that some sort of separation goes on, whereby the more "behaviorally challenged" kids get sent elsewhere, perhaps just for a while or perhaps longer, to another of their programs or to an affiliate.

This is actually how I first became aware of this place, as one of their former programs/affiliates is Shepherd's Hill Farm, run by Trace and Beth Embry. In fact, it would appear that Gables Academy may even have taught the Embrys some basics about running a program, since there is little to suggest any other source for such knowhow in the Embrys' personal histories. Perhaps I just haven't looked hard enough!  :D

Here's an old 'Seen 'n Heard (http://' piece from Struggling Teens which mentions both Gables Academy and Shepherd's Hill Farm in relation to one another, emphasis added:

(November 4, 2003) Beth Embry from The Shepherd's Hill Farm, 706-779-5736, (, announced their on-campus junior/senior high school has recently received its accreditation from The Georgia Accrediting Commission. No longer with Gables Stone Mountain, they now operate the Shepherds' Hill Farm Discipline Camp, an outdoor residential therapeutic program and school for youth struggling with behavioral issues. Their 80-acre camp strives to equip youth with spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical tools, "building relationships and trust between staff and students, based on biblical truth."[/list]
Title: Gables Academy & Shepherd's Hill Farm
Post by: Ursus on January 06, 2011, 12:05:32 AM
Excerpt from a post (http:// in the 'Shepherd's Hill Farm tries lawsuit threats (http://' thread:

Quote from: "Ursus"
...It was founded in 1961 in Coral Gables, Florida, under the name of Florida Gables Academy. Eventually they moved to Stone Mountain, Georgia, and hence dropped the "Florida" from their name.

Gables Academy appears to have incorporated a number of other programs under its umbrella and/or had some type of contractual arrangements with other programs. Trace and Beth Embry appear to have entered into such an arrangement for a period of time, starting in late 2000 or 2001.

At the time, the Embry's had already acquired the land and "members of their church started using [it] for an equine therapy program. The Embrys also held day camps, taught classes and hosted outdoor music events at Shepherd's Hill." Then, "a school in Atlanta called. Its officials had heard about the camps and equine therapy programs at Shepherd's Hill and wanted to send troubled kids to live on the property." That school appears to have been Gables Academy.

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* Quotes from the article, "Couple's leap of faith brings youngsters hope (http://" (by Heidi Cenac; June 29, 2007; Anderson Independent Mail).