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Midwest Academy

Midwest Academy

Located in Kouts, Indiana, Midwest Academy offers mental health treatment for teens in an educational, structured environment.

About Midwest Academy

Education is an integral component of treatment at Midwest Center. Upon admission, every patient is immediately enrolled into education programs at Midwest Academy. Enrollment letters are forwarded to the student’s school district superintendent, local education agency and director of assessment.

Through the Midwest Academy, our DBT-trained and licensed educators offer a structured, individualized educational setting that allows students to appropriately express their thoughts and feelings. Teachers at Midwest Academy maintain Indiana state licensing requirements and receive training in DBT. Their philosophy is to establish a supportive classroom environment where students are encouraged to take risks, evaluate their own work, and monitor their choices.

We also work to prepare students to successfully return to their home schools and to increase their academic aptitude. Before discharge from our program, our educators will develop an educational plan for your teenager’s academic future.

What We Offer

  • Credits transfer to home school
  • Small group tutorial for identified students
  • Credit recovery
  • An academic curriculum tailored to meet both the academic and therapeutic individual needs of students
  • Extended school year offered for all students
  • Collaboration with home school

Cognia Accreditation

“Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, professional learning, and improvement solutions to institutions and other education providers. As a global nonprofit working in over 80 countries, Cognia serves 36,000 institutions, nearly 25 million students, and five million educators every day.”

Meet the Team

Kerrie Lolkema, MS, Director of Education

Kerrie joined the Midwest Center for Youth & Families in 2008 as an Elementary Teacher. She later moved on to teaching Middle School. In 2016, she started Grad School at Indiana Wesleyan University and graduated with a Building Administration License. She became Assistant Principal in 2019 and helped develop the curriculum and enhance our program with Technology. Such as laptops in the classroom, Smartboards and Chromebooks for all of the students. In 2023, she became Midwest Centers Director of Education. “I love working with the children and seeing them find success in an area where it was a challenge for them. When children get the concept, they are struggling with is very near and dear to my heart. I love to see them grow and find excitement in what they are learning.

Lisa Pajkos, Teacher

Teacher Lisa has been turning “I can’t ” into “I cans” since she first started teaching in 2001. With a Bachelor’s Degree in English education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education, her passion is for those with learning differences and emotional handicapped. She joined Midwest Center for Youth & Families in 2017 and teaches our boys classroom. Currently, she is continuing her education in building administration and educational law. She continues to be driven to advocate for student rights.

Margaret M. "Peggy" Portelli, Teacher

I have truly enjoyed teaching high school/middle school girls at Midwest Center and South Shore Academy since 2011. I graduated from Valparaiso University in 1990, majoring in physical education and health, with a coaching endorsement K – 12. My career in teaching, coaching, and leadership began during my last semester in college when I was awarded the position of Head Coach of a Girl’s High School Varsity Volleyball program. Following graduation, I was appointed to teach at three (3) elementary schools and a middle school, while also serving as the Head Coach for the Girl’s Middle School Track Team. My interest in helping those with behavioral health issues led me to accept the position of Director of Recreation and Activity Therapy Department at Charter Hospital, where I spent 8 years until the facility closed. My next job involved raising a family while serving as a substitute teacher.

As a teacher at Midwest and South Shore, I strive to utilize my skills in teaching, coaching, and leadership to assist each student to grow academically, despite their challenging personal situations.

Mark Myers, Teacher

Mark has been with Midwest Center for Youth and Families as a teacher since 2022. I have a degree in Social Studies and Education. In his free time, I enjoy spending time with his family, participating in numerous sporting events, and enjoys cooking. I enjoy being able to make an impact on the youth of our society and helping them find new levels of accomplishment each and every day.

Jess Smick, Teacher

Since 2016, my journey in inspiring young minds began as a Behavioral Health Worker (BHW) at the Midwest Center. This role not only ignited my passion for working with youth but also exposed me to the challenges and rewards of shaping young lives. Collaborating closely with dedicated educators at the center, I witnessed the profound impact that teachers can have on students’ growth and development.

Driven by this experience, I made the decision to transition into a career as a teacher. Drawing upon the insights gained from working alongside committed teachers, I am deeply committed to creating inclusive spaces where every voice is valued and celebrated. My goal is to nurture curiosity, critical thinking, and a lifelong love of learning among my students.