Maple Lake Academy  

                Payson, Utah     

Click here for updated review.  This review is obsolete.  This note added September 8, 2014.

Maple Lake Academy is a very loving, caring facility for girls ages 13-17 with learning disabilities and psychological and behavioral problems. Their official web site emphasizes learning disabilities, and that is truthful, but there is transparently no reason to enroll an emotionally stable teenager with mild to moderate learning disabilities, in a facility at this cost. 

Notice:  As of Summer 2011, Maple Lake Academy has expanded to open a boys' program on a separate site about a mile from the original.   However, FamilyLight does not yet recommend this facility pending more information.

The remainder of this article expresses our opinion as of August, 2008. 

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FamilyLightsm is an educational consulting firm specializing in work with families with a young person with behavioral, emotional or psychological difficulties.  We offer in-depth personal guidance to families on a fee basis and free guidance on the internet. FamilyLightsm attempts to be fully objective and accepts no advertising nor referral fees. The only revenue at FamilyLightsm comes from client fees. 

When we say "loving" we intend to be taken seriously. Where so many programs cannot entirely shake the "break 'em down" culture, Maple Lake Academy does not use structure and discipline gratuitously. It defines itself through the understanding that healing comes through caring relationships.  Maple Lake Academy sets limits in the caring and respectful manner that should set the standard for the entire industry.

This is  facility that has the physical appearance of small well kept farm.  There is a main house, large, modern, family-like.  A barn houses horses and other animals lovingly cared for. That symbolizes the loving care of the young women cared for here.

This is the unusual school that is well equipped for the best educational services , on the one hand, for learning disabled girls including very serious language based learning disabilities and on the other, girls with serious emotional and behavioral problems.  Most facilities that serve one of these populations well, do not serve the other.

Patti Hollenbeck-Dial and Karen Nickl are two of the finest clinical leaders we have had the privilege of dealing with at FamilyLightsm in our history.  Patti is the owner, although she modestly appears on the official web site (June 15, 2008) as "Admissions." Karen is an extraordinary therapist, who has been with the program from the beginning. (We intend no offense to other staff we don't know as well.  Our faith in Maple Lake Academy depends in part on the confidence that all staff there reflect the standards we appreciate in Karen and Patti.

FamilyLightsm  referred two young women shortly after opening.  Noting One of these girls had a lower IQ than would be typical of Maple Lake Academy, and the other was young lady who needed the clinical power and the nurture of Maple Lake Academy, but whose learning disabilities were milder than would be typical of Maple Lake Academy.  In our business we learn more about the real strengths and weaknessess of a school or program by witnessing how they handle the exceptions to their routine.  Most schools and programs make liberal use of the term "individual" or "individualized" Maple Lake Academy sets a high bar for individualization, and crosses that bar with ease. 

It is not an accident that we chose Maple Lake Academy as the first individual program on which we would provide commentary.  We hope for the day that respect for the commentary on this web site will be such that the honor we intend by that choice will really mean something. As we further develop this web site, we will measure Maple Lake in greater depth against our guidelines. When we do that we will attempt to be both tough and fair.  No program is perfect and we will have some criticisms.  But Maple Lake Academy represents what this industry should be about.

Official web site of Maple Lake Academy

Return to Individual School and  Program Index


News item: Logan Valentine Joins Maple Lake


Struggling Teens: New Perspectives, April 2004


Maple Lake First Anniversary


Feedback is invited. We will publish feedback in good taste, consistent with our standards.  Email

Disclaimer: No  program review, no matter how positive, is a blanket endorsement. No criticism is a blanket condemnation.  When we express our level of confidence in a school or program, that is our subjective opinion with which others might reasonably disagree.  When we assert something as fact, we have done our best to be accurate, but we cannot guarantee that all of our information is accurate and up to date. When we address compliance with our guidelines, you need to remember that these are only OUR guidelines -- not guidelines from an official source.  We have also set the bar very high, and do not expect any school or program to be in total compliance.  It is not appropriate to draw a conclusion of impropriety (or even failure to live up to conventional wisdom) from our lack of confidence in a school or program or from less than perfect conformity to our guidelines.  Some will say we expect too much. Readers are responsible for verifying accuracy of information supplied here prior to acting upon it. We are not responsible for inaccuracies.


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Last updated 08-11-08; minor edits  up to 07-09-09; Notice of Boys' school opening amended on 7-14-2012


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