Author Archives: Foundation

My Miriam Story-Rianna

Having my son at Miriam, walking the same halls and experiencing the same love and support that I received as a child, is so special. I’m just ecstatic that Tristan is able to go there.

I started at Miriam in third grade, after being diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities. I had many opportunities at Miriam I wouldn’t have had at other schools. The unique ways they offered for me to learn really helped me.

After some time at Miriam, I had accepted my challenges and felt comfortable with myself. I was confident enough to ask for help, and I knew what I needed to ask for. I now see that same thing happening with Tristan. He realizes what he needs to be successful, and he’s comfortable enough to ask for it.

The small classes and the general understanding the teachers have of the students – they get that it’s just who we are, that we’re not trying to do the wrong thing – make all the difference in the world.

Tristan has ADHD. At Miriam, they understand he sometimes is just unable to sit still. Rather than giving him consequences or forcing him to sit, his teachers suggest that he run a lap through the halls, bounce on a mini trampoline or visit the occupational therapy room. There are so many more options for him.

I also see Tristan making great friends at Miriam, which was hard for him in kindergarten at the public school. I had the same experience. All of the students were so accepting, and it was easy to make friends. I’m still good friends with some of my Miriam classmates.

I’m also still in touch with a few of the faculty and staff – especially Ms. C. She was my teacher for two years, and we had a very special connection. She was my mentor, my guru, my second mother. She still is, actually. She went through a lot with me, both at school and personally, and I still go to her for support.

It was scary to leave Miriam. I knew things would be different. I went to a public high school and even though I did well, they just didn’t know how to support me in the right ways. Not much was expected of me, and because of that, I really didn’t learn everything I could have in those four years.

“Miriam school saved Rianna’s life. She has been successful in every school setting she has been in because Miriam showed her she could learn.” – Nancy Snow, Rianna’s mother and Tristan’s grandmother

I did go on to get a certificate in cosmetology and an associate’s degree in construction and carpentry. I know these were possible because of Miriam. At Miriam, I learned how to be successful in an educational setting.

Miriam changed my life, and I am so thankful my son is receiving the same support.

-Submitted by By Rianna Glazier-Snow, Miriam Alum and Parent of Miriam School Student

9th Annual Trivia Night Sponsorships

Sponsorship Opportunities and Benefits

Event Sponsorship (1) – $5,000

Includes all “VIP” benefits plus:

  • Company/Family name on all 2020 Trivia Night communications
  • Additional eight (8) event tickets (total of 16)
  • 2 VIP tables (8 guests per table) at the front of the room, ten mulligans per table, and inclusion in all games (Heads or Tails, etc.) for both tables (total of 16); complimentary beer cups and beer + 1 bottle of red wine and 1 bottle of white wine + complimentary dessert for both tables
  • 1 additional VIP parking spot (2 total)

VIP Sponsorship – $2,500

Includes all “Genius” benefits plus:

  • 1 VIP parking spot
  • Complimentary beer cups and beer for all 8 guests
  • 1 bottle of red wine and 1 bottle of white wine for the table
  • Complimentary dessert for the table

Genius Sponsorship – $1,000

Includes all “Quiz Master” benefits plus:

  • Reserved table centrally located, ten mulligans, inclusion in all games (Heads or Tails, etc.) for the table of 8 guests
  • Support acknowledged from the podium
  • Recognition on signage day of event

Quiz Master Sponsorship – $500

  • Eight (8) Event tickets
  • Recognition on screen & on answer sheet for each round
  • Recognition in Miriam Newsletter and Annual Report
  • Recognition on the Miriam website

Round Sponsorship – $250

  • Recognition on answer sheet for one round
  • Recognition on Miriam website

9th Annual Friends of Miriam Trivia Night Sponsorship/Tickets

  • Price: $0.00
  • Price: $0.00
  • $0.00
  • American Express

Purchase Miriam Holiday Cards

We’re making holiday cards easy for you! Just look at this exquisite artwork by a very talented Miriam student. Purchase these beautiful cards to send your family and friends, and all proceeds will come right back to Miriam! They’re just $10 for a pack of 10. Place your order today!

You can either pick up your cards at the Miriam Foundation office located at 9450 Manchester Road, Suite 207, St. Louis, MO 63119, or have them shipped to you at a cost of $2.50 per pack of 10.

Purchase Miriam Holiday Cards

  • Price: $10.00 Quantity:
  • Price: $2.50 Quantity:
  • $0.00
  • American Express

Through Maria’s early childhood and elementary years, she always had many friends and was a very fun-loving girl.  She’s always been more on the quiet side, in fact her teachers questioned her ability to speak—“ is English her second language?”  As the years passed, we noticed more and more her struggles with focus, attention, fears, and learning delays.  As we searched for answers and had her tested, her social skills were worsening.

When she started high school, it became a complete struggle.  Refusal to attend school became an everyday problem.  “There’s got to be a better way for her,” we thought.  Searching on line and talking with family and friends, we came across the Miriam School.

Her diagnosis was extreme social anxiety.  Miriam was so helpful and definitely caught our attention.  We toured the school and were informed that a new high school would be started in the new school year!  What a wonderful God-send!  A perfect match— to start her with a new beginning—a new school—a school that can meet her needs!

She was very comfortable knowing she could be in a small classroom setting.  She found comfort in the teachers who were all experts and were hand-chosen for this special place!  Gradually Maria found herself building her confidence, and she found her own individuality.  There was no competing with other students.  She became comfortable making friends, in fact, she started becoming strong with staying true to herself and the friends around her.  She stood up for other individuals in her classroom and became a leader.

Maria best expresses herself through music and has matured into a beautiful creative individual.  We are all so proud of her and she is proud to say that she is part of the inaugural class of Miriam Academy!

–a huge thanks from the Inman Family,

-Submitted by Kathy, Mark and Maria Inman

“Your son does not engage with other kids in the sandbox.” “He’s not in the circle with the other kids, but off doing something else in the room. But when we ask him what just happened in the circle, he can tell us in detail every time.” These are just a few of the reports we were getting from three schools before we discovered Miriam, or should I say, before Miriam saved our son Nicolas. From the moment he nervously set foot in the building, Nicolas began a whole new journey of social interaction and love of learning.

With a diagnosis of high functioning autism and Asperger’s, Miriam gave us a gift of accepting Nicolas in the Spring of 2010 and he graduated in the Spring of 2015. Now a senior in high school, he is preparing to enter college in the Fall.

As Nicolas shared in his college essay describing his identity, he came to Miriam with few social skills and a lack of trust in other kids. Through his time at Miriam, we learned as a family what triggered his outbursts and Nicolas learned how to advocate for himself when he needed to change course. Miriam also gave him the skills he needed to transition to high school.

The learning in the classroom at Miriam came with patient teachers who gave our son what he needed to succeed. Sometimes that came in the form of rewards. Other times it came in the form of high praise from teachers he truly admired and respected. He especially loved Dr. Kathie Pontikes where he enjoyed her teaching style and sense of humor. It’s teachers like Dr. P who make Miriam so special.

When Nicolas started Clayton High School as a freshman, little did we know our son would blossom immediately and love being academically challenged. He’ll graduate this May from Clayton with a 4.0+ GPA and at the time of publishing has gained admission to several universities with top ranking Computer Science programs.

I believe what Nicolas will look back and appreciate most at Miriam are the teachers and the friendships with classmates. He continues to keep in touch with some of his Miriam friends through gaming and chats online. It took a lot of work, but to this day I am most proud of the fact that Nicolas can advocate for himself, communicating to classmates and teachers what he needs in a given situation or environment.

Miriam is a special environment where Nicolas felt accepted for his differences. It’s a school where students learn to walk out of the classroom when they need to and check themselves into the sensory room or ride a tricycle around the hallway in order to release some pressures of the day. Miriam teachers are miracle workers because they are so in tune with the individual student and know just what a student needs in any given moment.

-Submitted by Andrew Newman, Miriam School Alumni Parent

April 18, 2019


Miriam plans $5 million in improvements to former B’nai El Site
St. Louis, Mo – Miriam announced today that the City of Frontenac has unanimously approved a conditional use permit to allow Miriam Academy to locate at 11411 North Forth Drive. Miriam Academy is a small, private high school serving students who learn differently. Plans call for Miriam Academy to be located in the former B’nai El Congregation building upon completion of $5 million in extensive renovations. Miriam is awaiting zoning approval from the Village of Westwood as the property resides in both municipalities.

Miriam Academy opened with its inaugural class in 2016 and today serves 55 high school students at its current location in Town & Country. The Academy provides a learning environment designed to support the education, development and college and career readiness needs of high school students with unique learning needs. The new location would allow Miriam Academy to serve approximately 100 students.

“Miriam Academy addresses an unmet need in the St. Louis region for high school students with learning challenges,” said Miriam’s Executive Director Andrew Thorp. “Revitalizing the former B’nai El structure will allow us to create the perfect learning environment where more students can excel,” he said. “This property represents an ideal site for Miriam Academy to serve its mission to educate, provide hope and inspire unique learners by building confidence and a foundation for success,” Thorp said.

“We wish to thank the City of Frontenac for approving our plans and are hopeful that the Village of Westwood will also provide zoning approval to repurpose the B’nai El property to serve even more students and their families in the community,” Thorp said. The project comes before the Village of Westwood Trustees for consideration on April 23 at 5pm at Frontenac City Hall.

Miriam has a contract with Congregation Shaare Emeth to purchase the B’nai El property. Mike Lefton, President of Shaare Emeth stated, “As current owners of the B’nai El property, Shaare Emeth is pleased to support the mission of Miriam Academy to educate high school students with learning challenges. This is a great use of the existing property and we support the renovation of the building that will preserve the legacy of B’nai El.”

Miriam’s redevelopment of the property would occur within the footprint of the existing building. Improvements include converting half of the large parking lot to greenspace and enhancing landscaping including trees for screening and a fence around the perimeter of the property.

The majority of work in the interior will create a dramatically improved facility designed for longterm viability. In addition, a traffic study was completed by CBB traffic engineers and determined that traffic related to the operation of Miriam Academy would minimally impact existing traffic flow. No field lights will be added. School hours are from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Through three comprehensive programs, Miriam School, Miriam Academy and Miriam Learning Center, Miriam currently serves more than 1,200 students with learning differences each year. Miriam started as an elementary school more than 60 years ago, added a middle school in 2002, and today Miriam School serves 96 students in grades Pre-K-8 with a variety of learning challenges. Miriam Learning Center serves over 1,000 students in the community through after school programs and outreach partnerships with over 60 charter and private schools. Miriam Switching Post is a resale store in Brentwood with all proceeds benefiting the students and programs of Miriam.


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Contact: Laurie Burstein
Telephone: (314) 962-6059

My Miriam Story-Taylor

I have always loved English. Everything about it has always made me happy: how you can express yourself in writing, how every person has a different interpretation of the same piece, or how various authors can turn scratches on a page into words that can bring you to tears or make you question your entire existence. I have always not only enjoyed but excelled in it. Then, I went to high school. I was absolutely miserable. The teachers were conditioned to teach and not to help the students learn. I was afraid to ask questions, participate in class, or even talk to people. My grades started to fall. I developed school anxiety and depression. I lost my creative voice.

Then, my family and I discovered Miriam Academy. I decided to visit and see if it would be a good place for me. When I walked in, I admit, I was kind of scared. I was so used to the normal desk-and-chair learning that I never expected to see people hopping around in body socks or sliding down the halls on scooters. Yet, I had a special feeling about Miriam and knew this was the school I wanted to attend.

When I started at Miriam, I was still dealing with that hopeless feeling that I had developed at my previous school. I forced a smile on my face every day and trudged through my classes. It was still a struggle. It’s hard to see the light when your fire has been put out.

Slowly but steadily, I didn’t have to force a smile. I excelled in all of my classes. I made wonderful friends that accepted me for me. My fire was reignited. Now, I’m able to write better than ever, even about sensitive topics like this. I hope to be a novelist one day and have grown the confidence to truly believe that I can do it. Miriam has not only been a blessing in my life, but it has also made an impact on how I will live my life in the future.

-Submitted by Taylor Defusco, Miriam Academy student

I still remember the initial nervousness I felt when my then five-year-old son Xavier attended a two-day trial session in Miss Angie’s class at Miriam School. Would he react well to the other children? Would he be able to communicate effectively with his teacher and the therapists at Miriam? Would he develop the strong friendships that every parent hopes for their children? The answer to all of these questions eventually became yes!

Though Xavier was a happy and affectionate child, he had difficulty communicating verbally. He also had problems dealing with his emotions and with normal auditory processing. My wife Candice and I eventually sought out a neurologist after several developmental milestones were missed. In the summer of 2010, Xavier was diagnosed with autism.

After careful consideration, we made the decision to send Xavier to Miriam School and he began in the fall of 2014. We felt that Miriam had the right structure in place to meet all of his needs, whether academic, social, sensory, or therapeutic on a daily basis.

Today Xavier is a happy, confident 10-year-old boy who enjoys playing with the friends he has made at Miriam. He is able to effectively express his feelings verbally to his teachers and friends. A big factor in Xavier’s success is the small class size and attention he gets at Miriam. The teachers have the privilege to devote more individual time to each student and can appropriately assess and meet the needs that will make each student successful.

One of our son’s favorite things at Miriam is the yearly talent show. Last year, Xavier participated in the magic show. It’s incredibly exciting to see your child have confidence and watch that self-assurance translate into other areas of his life. Miriam is really a special place because there is a priority placed on the amount of time spent with each student whether in the classroom, in therapy, or in the many activities that occur during the day. Miriam is more than just a school: it is a place where children can thrive in an atmosphere that embraces different ways of learning while nurturing each student.

-Submitted by Mark Kadlec, Miriam School Parent