since 2003

The Black Bear Academy Mission

Black Bear Academy is a center for learning that provides education and support to children of all ages and their families in the Chicago area. We offer a wide range of academic and therapeutic programming that reflects our commitment to meet the needs of children at all skill levels as they learn, grow, and develop.

What we believe

At Black Bear Academy, we believe in helping children grow and develop according to their individual needs.

What we believe

At Black Bear Academy, we believe in helping children grow and develop according to their individual needs.

History of Black Bear Academy

Black Bear Academy began in June 2003 as a pilot program to support children and families in the Chicago area. With an eighteen-month-old son at home, founder Maureen Black decided it was time to put a long-time vision in motion and established BBA in a 1400 square-feet space at Irving Park and Hermitage with three employees. Maureen served as Executive Program Director and consulted with families, schools, and therapists to provide exceptional services to students both at BBA and in external programs to support the success of Black Bear students as they transitioned to other city programs. In the fall of 2009, Maureen and her husband Kevin closed their therapeutic company Clinical Assist to continue their research and focus their full attention on continually improving the programming at BBA. Sadly, Maureen struggled with declining health following a diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and passed away in November 2019.

Dr. Lori Tall and Melissa Menn became the new owners of Black Bear Academy in 2020. Their combined experience in clinical neuropsychology, teaching, and school social work make them the ideal pair to continue to build an exceptional offering of academic and therapeutic programming to support children and families at BBA.

Meet the Owners

Dr. Lori Tall is the founder and clinical director of the Center for Comprehensive Neurobehavioral Care, a pediatric psychology practice in downtown Chicago. As a clinical neuropsychologist, she specializes in educational, neuropsychological, and legal assessments and has worked across clinical and academic settings throughout her career. Before entering private practice, Dr. Tall served as the director of the Assessment Program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston and clinical director at Rush Neurobehavioral Center at Rush University Medical Center.

Melissa Menn is the founder and director of Learning Lab Chicago, a tutoring company that serves families across the city. Ten years of teaching in various academic settings and a master’s degree in school social work have set Melissa up to be uniquely qualified to choose and perfect programs that support students on a more individualized basis. In her work, Melissa strives to fully understand the whole child; this approach enables her to tailor a curriculum to successfully meet each child’s specific needs. She is highly trained in a number of reading, writing, and executive functioning programs.

A collaboration

At Black Bear Academy, we believe in partnering with parents to maximize each child’s unique skills and strengths.

A collaboration

At Black Bear Academy, we believe in partnering with parents to maximize each child’s unique skills and strengths.

Our Core Values

We believe in helping children grow and develop according to their individual needs.

We believe in partnering with parents to maximize each child’s unique skills and strengths.

We believe in protecting the joys of childhood while facilitating optimal opportunities for each child to learn at a self-determined pace based on interest and aptitude.

We believe in building a child’s neural network through a multi-sensory approach to learning at the highest levels of potential through play and motor cortex development, regardless of traditional or adult-determined age expectations.

our vision for students

“As the new owners of Black Bear Academy, we are committed to seeing the growth of the whole child. Our vision is to serve the individual needs of each child and family at Black Bear Academy with exceptional, research-driven programming and services.”

Dr. Lori Tall + Melissa Menn

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