Category: What a Difference a Day Makes
Madonna Learning Center

Madonna Learning Center

Germantown, Tennessee

MLC serves 83 students beginning at age 4 with adults attending our full-time program beginning at 18.

Initially named Madonna Day School, the Madonna Learning Center (MLC) was founded in 1969 by three Benedictine sisters. The sisters envisioned a faith-based environment where the cognitive, emotional, spiritual and physical development needs of children with disabilities could be addressed and nurtured in a progressive way. The goal was to enable these children to become part of the community in which they lived, rather than being isolated or institutionalized, which was common at the time.

The school opened in Memphis, Tennessee, with 21 students. It soon began to grow year after year, relocating twice within the city. In 1996, the current name, Madonna Learning Center, was adopted, and the school moved to its current location in Germantown. In the fall of 2015, a large construction and renovation to the property was completed, which enabled the school to expand its school and young adult program. Today, MLC serves 83 students beginning at age 4 with adults attending our full-time program beginning at 18. In 2019, we marked our 50th anniversary.

The Mission

MLC’s mission is to provide a nurturing, faith-based education and social environment that empowers young and adult students with disabilities such as autism to reach their full potential while offering support for families. Our hope is to help transform the lives of our students and assist them in building a brighter future.

MLC offers training in academics, vocations, social skills, recreation, fitness and independent living skills. The school has full-time speech and occupational therapists, as well as licensed, full-time and experienced teacher assistants. Programs are offered in visual arts, Orff music, creative movement, yoga, adaptive physical education and woodworking by certified instructors.

Faith, hope and commitment provide the foundation of MLC. One of the founders often said, “We don’t believe in miracles; we rely on them!” That quote holds true today.

What Would You Do with $5,000 and a Day of Service?

We would improve our playground spaces to include imaginative play and social engagement activities. These are critical skills for children on the autism spectrum. The space would include a replication of a “mini city” allowing students to pretend or envision that they are working in various businesses that make up a community. Volunteers would help paint and prepare our blacktop area that provides the framework to our city.