Alumni Questionnaire ← Back to Index

Margaret-Ann McKee (McNab):

What is your name?

Margaret-Ann McKee (McNab)

To which institutions were you sent?

EC and Marion

How old were you?

16-18

When were you enrolled in The Program?

September 3, 1993-July 25, 1995

What was the highest level you attained?

Please describe the circumstances that got you sent to The Program:

I was not going to school, doing drugs and on probation.

In which house(s) did you live?

Herrick House, TKB and Pitts House/ Herrick again

Please describe instances of abuse you experienced while in the program, if any:

- I think the most blatant form of abuse was emotional abuse in the form of belittlement and disregard for my own personhood.

- Several times I found myself in uncomfortable situations in which I was put in a small room with two or more adult men who interrogated me about my morality. Once I was forced to stand at attention in the director's office with three other men, door closed, while the director took out my file and berated me about my past life and basically called me a whore.

Describe abuse of other students you witnessed, if any:

- One that stands out in my head the most was this boy who was constantly humiliated because of his slight stature. The housefather made him carry a water heater up the casita (a long, steep hill on campus) on his shoulder. He dropped it because it was so heavy, so the housefather made him crawl up the casita on all fours while four other boys held the water heater on his back.

- This same boy was stuck into the quiet room for long periods of time and was constantly on rock support (where you carry rocks in your pockets and take them out and count them before speaking) or pushup support (where you drop and do push-ups before entering a room) or on silence support (where you're not allowed to speak and must write your requests on a piece of paper that you hold over your head.)

- A girl got in trouble for talking back to staff and was forced to eat off the floor in a corner of the room while the rest of us sat at the dining room.

- The thing about this type of public abuse is that it terrorizes the people who see it as well as the actual person being abused, so that the witnesses become victims as well.

Do you have any good memories of The Program? If so, what are they?

- I loved waking up in the mornings in the DR right as the sun was rising and going out to get my mop and bucket and seeing the clouds over Jarabacoa-I always prayed that I would see something beautiful in my day when I was there and that scene was usually it.

- Anytime when I could be “check” (break the program rules) was another bonus.

- I met one of my best friends in Marion.

- My vacation with my mom in Jarabacoa and seeing parrots on Pico Duarte.

- I really loved my last house parents, Matt and Melody, Brad and Anna and I love Annie. However, they did not keep us safe if they knew what was going on and I can't respect that.

What is your overall impression of The Program? Did it “help you”?

I do believe that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I feel I was trained how to deal with authorities, to talk about my feelings (to a point) and to accept things I can't change.

What do you think of the quality of education you received?

Bogus!! I am glad that I graduated from there and did not have to deal with credits not transferring, as some other kids did.

How old are you today?

28

Did you go to college after attending The Program? If so, what degrees do you have?

I went the University of North Texas and received a B.S. in in Rehabilitation.

What is your profession?

I am a mom, wife and Youth Advocate/Case Manager at a middle school in North Denver.

Do you consider yourself a Christian today?

No. I am a very spiritual person and believe Jesus was a great human role model, but I do not believe we are damned to hell or sent to heaven.

What effect did “The Program” have on your faith?

Not much, I had lots of questions that no one could answer. I think few of the staff tried to emulate Jesus' example.

Please feel free to add comments here:

It's been over ten years since I left the program and I've thought about it a lot. I wonder why there's been no effort on the part of NHYM to poll former students on their feelings for the program, figure out how it could be improved or how to better serve the kids under their care.

I don't believe the staff intentionally wanted to hurt kids (some may, like the Tara's housefather), yet the system permits them to do so by making them enforce a rigid set of rules. I find it APPALLING that the staff isn't trained to work with “highly-functioning at-risk youth.” Because they don't have the training/resources to deal with these type of children, it's easy to resort to violence and intimidation out of ignorance.

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