The Eton Approach: Learning for Life

The Eton Approach: Learning for Life

By M.H. Murray for Local Business News

Soon after Rowan Daugherty began public school, it was evident that it was not a good fit for her.

“Rowan, who is smart and verbal, was given several labels of dysfunction,” says her mom, Stephanie Daugherty, “and her confidence was shot. She was becoming a different kid.…When my second daughter, Daphne, who treasures books, started school, she was dealing with some challenges when it came to reading and executive neurological function.”

“We knew about Eton,” Daugherty continued, “but my husband and I were afraid of the cost – until we went to an Open House, where we learned we were not alone – and we made it happen. Eton Academy and The Eton Approach have done nothing short of changing our lives.”lbn-ad

Eton Academy, on Melton Rd. near W. 14 Mile Rd. in Birmingham, was founded in 1986 as a full-curriculum, independent, private school for students with learning differences and has over 200 students in grades 1-12.

Pete Pullen, Head of School, describes The Eton Approach as “the culmination of 30 years of teaching students who learn differently.”

“It takes the science, the research, and our successful experiences,” Pullen explains, “for a systemized approach to consistently delivering direct, explicit and multi-sensory instruction.”

“I’m a big cheerleader for Eton Academy and The Eton Approach,” says Daugherty. “Now, a couple of years later, Rowan (now ten) and Daphne (now seven) are thriving. In the past year, Daphne has improved from being able to read five words to 130 words: a 5.5th-grade reading level! And Rowan has blossomed. She is confident, meeting her goals and making new ones.”

“The teachers call, they communicate, they talk to outside therapists,” Daugherty continues. “The girls are really comfortable there, and so am I. Learning is no longer a battle. When I pick them up and ask about their day, they now say, ‘Awesome! Amazing!’ They are being taught how to learn and are given tools that will last their lifetimes.”Eton 1 - Copy

Daugherty describes Rowan’s first day at Eton Academy. “Rowan was upset upon arriving and did not want to stay. Mr. Pullen approached and offered to take her for a walk around the school. She took his hand and – though I don’t know what they talked about – when they returned, she was absolutely fine.”

Pullen smiles as he recalls that walk – and his own path to becoming Eton Academy’s Head of School.

“I know it sounds funny,” he says, “but I knew I wanted to be a school principal from the time I was six or seven years old.”
“I was inspired by Dr. Walker, our principal at Mary D. Mitchell School in Ann Arbor,” Pullen says. “He was the kindest, gentlest man I ever met, and he was always helping children.”

After attending Ann Arbor’s Greenhills School, Pullen returned there, while working on his degree at the University of Michigan, to tutor and coach basketball.

“Later,” Pullen says, “the opportunity was presented to teach middle school at Greenhills, so that’s where I began. And when I was there, I thought, ‘This is how schools should teach.’ It left an indelible mark on my philosophy.”

TroyAutoGlassAd“I then took a detour and coached college basketball for two years at Eastern Michigan University and realized that my true passion is teaching. Though,” he adds, grinning, “I love basketball!”

Pullen then taught and became Assistant Head of School at Detroit’s Friends School and was also Head of School at Herlong Cathedral School before coming to Eton, where he has been for fifteen years.

And Pullen, as well as Eton’s teachers (and the specialists who continually teach those teachers), support staff, and board of trustees, sustain a place where children with learning challenges, and their families, find hope.

It’s a place where each student who walks through their doors is seen as a unique, growing child with amazing abilities, unlimited potential and discoverable ways of acquiring skills, knowledge, self-awareness; where science, compassion and dedication create a community where all can thrive, where all can succeed.Eton 3

“We are a resource,” says Pullen, “for a student, a person, your child, who is struggling to learn. Everyone here is incredibly committed and passionate. A call to us may be helpful and, even though the school might not be your child’s ultimate home, we also extend tutoring, our learning center, our summer program. Our goal is to help as many students and families as we can, moving them from frustration to flourishing.”

1755 Melton Rd.
Birmingham, MI 48009
248-642- 1150

Dentist’s Old-School Approach Puts Focus On People

Dentist’s Old-School Approach Puts Focus On People

By Beth Robinson

The décor in Dr. Scott Meldrum’s Birmingham dental office is clean, comfortable, and untouched by a decorator since the practice moved from West McNichols in Detroit in 1973. There is no television set in the waiting room. The office doesn’t have an internet connection. And eighty-year-old Norma Thurlow, the receptionist since 1957, administers the practice with a huge ledger-style appointment book and an electric typewriter.unnamed (3)

This old school approach is not a musty tradition, but an intentional focus on what is most important and valuable to Meldrum’s patients. This, for Meldrum, is a relationship with his patients that makes them feel safe and comfortable. And it’s about providing highly skilled, state-of-the-art care, without pain, and without unnecessary procedures.

“The number one thing that makes any dental office successful is the dentist,” Meldrum says. “And the number two thing is the employees. It’s about people liking people.”

This starts at the front desk, where Thurlow greets each one of the practice’s 1,500 regular patients personally, including children who represent the fifth generation of their families to be treated there.unnamed (4)

“I’m old school,” she says. “I hang up everyone’s coat and they love that.”

Thurlow was a nursing student in 1957 when she became ill and was hospitalized for a month. The break in her studies made returning unfeasible, so she decided to look for work in a dental office. An agency contacted her about the job in Dr. Joseph Champagne’s office, but then told her it was filled. A day later, they called her back, and said that the person they sent over only lasted one day.

“I could see why,” laughs Thurlow, recalling the elder Dr. Champagne’s temper. But Thurlow was more than a match for it, managing the office, becoming close with Dr. Champagne’s son, Dr. Jack Champagne and his wife, and staying as the practice passed to Dr. Jack, and then to his son-in-law, Dr. Meldrum.lbn-ad

Meldrum credits Thurlow with helping to create the continuity that allowed for a successful transition.

“It’s nice, when you walk through the front door, to know the person behind the front desk,” says Meldrum. “They get their dental work done and they stand and talk to Norma for another 45 minutes.”

In a recent article for the Oakland County Dental Society’s Dental Review, Meldrum outlined the “Ten P’s for a Successful Practice.” In addition to personality, personnel, and passion, Meldrum outlines the importance of product, price, and painlessness.

“The best thing,” he says, “is to do everything you can to make sure they don’t feel anything, so they gain confidence that they won’t get hurt next time they come.”

Judith and Duane Cox - Judith Cox has been going to the practice since she was six years old. She and her husband Duane came from Las Vegas on their way to their home in Houghton Lake to see Dr. Meldrum, who she says is "the very best dentist in the entire world.

Judith and Duane Cox – Judith Cox has been going to the practice since she was six years old. She and her husband Duane came from Las Vegas on their way to their home in Houghton Lake to see Dr. Meldrum, who she says is “the very best dentist in the entire world.

Many of his new patients come in with concerns about unnecessary procedures.

“Overzealous dentistry,” says Meldrum, can be the result of dentists’ large student loans, corporate dental groups focused on profit, and expensive equipment which must be used to be justified.

Meldrum’s cozy sunlit office is not only familiar and comfortable, but it also lets patients know that they’re not getting extra procedures to pay for ritzy furnishings. Ditto the internet connection, which, Meldrum says, “would not have made the business more successful.”

“It’s the science, the art, and the business of dentistry, and you have to be good at all three,” says Meldrum.

And if Thurlow has her way, it will stay that way. Asked if she ever thinks about retiring, the feisty octogenarian says: “I don’t know why people stay at home. I’m a widow and I live all alone, so I just have to be here to aggravate Dr. Meldrum. That’s my plan in life.”


Dr. Meldrum’s general dentistry practice is located at:

295 Elm St, Birmingham, MI 48009
Phone: (248) 645-5055