Pace Learning Systems Celebrates 35 Years of Helping Struggling Learners Achieve Academic Success

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Pace Learning Systems of Tuscaloosa, Alabama provides research-based educational solutions. For 35 years, Pace Learning Systems has followed the guiding principle of Nothing Teaches Like Success®.

Today, Dr. John McKee’s mission of breaking the cycle of failure in struggling learners remains unchanged —and this mission and passion continues to drive Pace Learning Systems.

In October, Pace Learning Systems celebrates its 35th year in business with a continued commitment to working with struggling students. Pace Learning Systems, an educational publisher and industry consulting organization based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, markets proven instructional programs created for struggling at-risk students and adult learners in all subject areas and at all educational levels.

Pace Learning Systems’ visionary founder, Dr. John McKee, has devoted his professional career to breaking the cycle of failure and bringing success to struggling learners. From 1953 to 1962, Dr. McKee was the Director of Alabama's Community Mental Health Program. He expanded the state's mental health centers from three to ten and developed a school mental health program throughout the State. He was alarmed at the number of young students in the mental health program who were failing in school. Dr. McKee ultimately formed the Rehabilitation Research Foundation with the mission of researching and providing a means of turning academic and personal failures into successes.

During this time, Dr. McKee began educating inmates at an Alabama correctional institution. He strongly believed that education could be a prisoner’s “ticket” out of prison and his or her hope for a productive life. He quickly discovered that many of these prisoners had failed academically and possessed negative feelings about learning. He set out to design a program that would quickly bring them instructional success, believing such success would motivate them to continue learning.

In 1962, Dr. McKee conducted a demonstration project in education and rehabilitation at Draper Correctional Center, a prison for youthful adult offenders. This project was so successful that it was expanded through grants from the Ford Foundation and the Aaron Norman Fund. Dr. McKee then resigned his position as the Director of Alabama Community Mental Health Program and took full direction of the prison experimental demonstration project. At this time, he received a three-year grant from the National Institute for Mental Health. This grant was renewed for an additional three years, and the findings of his studies were disseminated on a broad scale nationwide.

Dr. McKee adopted what was at the time, an experimental student learning method called programmed instruction, and he implemented a highly individualized learning system that worked quickly and successfully. His students included those who had failed with traditional instruction, and they were excited by the success they experienced with his non-punitive approach. They asked for more and different material.

After 15 years of success with his program, Dr. McKee expanded the scope of his work beyond corrections. In 1977, he founded Pace Learning Systems to market his successful program. He also began development on other programs such as dropout prevention, to help struggling learners.

Dr. McKee’s wife, Dr. Susan McKee began her career teaching students with learning disabilities. She left the classroom position to obtain her doctorate in educational psychology and to better serve non-traditional students. As it often does, fate intervened, and Susan met John McKee at an American Psychological Association meeting. After learning about John’s work and how well programmed learning worked with learning disabled students, Susan took a position with Pace Learning as a trainer, but quickly became involved in Research and Development efforts.

Susan and John were ultimately married, and this year they celebrate 30 years of marriage. Together, Susan and John have over 85 years dedicated to helping others succeed. Susan now serves as the President of Pace Learning Systems and continues to work with struggling students.

Dr. John McKee has been honored with a charter membership in the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI). In 2007, the Correctional Education Association (CEA) honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Today, Dr. McKee’s mission of breaking the cycle of failure in struggling learners remains unchanged —and this mission and passion continues to drive Pace Learning Systems.

About Pace Learning Systems

Pace Learning Systems of Tuscaloosa, Alabama provides research-based educational solutions. For 35 years, Pace Learning Systems has followed the guiding principle of Nothing Teaches Like Success®. Programs nationwide are using the company’s educational solutions to teach older youth and adults functional literacy, basic academics, and “transition skills” for life and the world of work. Pace Learning has designed programs to break the cycle of academic failure and enhance each student’s approach to instruction and learning. To find out more about Pace Learning Systems' products, please visit http://www.pacelearning.com.

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Shanice Merritt
Pace Learning Systems
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Clint Massey

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