How Milestones Started
Written by our founder, Alex Smith-Michaels
I’m a dreamer as well as an entrepreneur. I saw a problem and created a solution. I’m also a person with a disability that changed the way students with disabilities are educated today.
Growing up I experienced the worst of the educational and psychiatric systems. Therefore, when I was 24 years old in 1994, I created an agency dedicated to helping people with disabilities and vowed to change the way they are viewed. Instead of exclusively looking at a student’s challenges I saw what was positive and engaging about these students. I saw potential.
Milestones, Inc. started in the kitchen in my cramped apartment in Cambridge, MA in 1994. After earning my degree, I consulted to various towns’ special education programs to meet their students’ needs within their district. This involved designing programs from the ground up starting with planning a budget, finding funding sources, designing the physical classroom space, designing curriculum, hiring and training staff, writing and monitoring Individual Education Plans, and most of all providing program oversight. All students were treated with respect and dignity.
After a short while of consulting to school districts my phone was ringing off the hook. I couldn’t keep up with the requests for consultation, so with the support of my family, I decided to hire staff. Eventually my apartment became too small and unrealistic to run a company from, so I rented approximately 2500 square feet of space to continue and expand the consultations. Consulting alone was still not enough to really help all the students I encountered. I knew the only way to really make a difference was to establish a special needs school. In 2005, I opened a school of my own where an intense pragmatic curriculum melded with robust academic programming, and Milestones Day School was born! I rented additional space and employed ideal interventions. The school filled up rather quickly. We started with 1 student and now serve approximately 80 students.