The Story of MindStrong Academy
In 2011, Keri was asked by a colleague at Horizon Prep, a small private school in Rancho Santa Fe, California, to look into the Arrowsmith Program headquartered in Toronto, Canada. After doing some research and speaking with an existing Arrowsmith Program at a school in the United States, she told her best friend and fellow educator, Joy, about this incredible, life changing program. Determined to offer something better that gave real hope and permanent “brain changes”, Keri and Joy began researching how to bring the program to San Diego, California. With the support of Dr. Kush, the headmaster of Horizon Prep, a few key angel investors and many miracles, the program came to life in the fall of 2013 at Horizon Prep.
The program started with four students better known as the “Fab Four” and continued to grow and serve over fifty families at Horizon Prep. Over time, both Joy and Keri realized that they could provide Arrowsmith to even more families if it were available at more than one location. In 2018, Mindstrong Academy was started on the campus of Pacific Academy.
While Mindstrong Academy is a completely separate entity from Pacific Academy, the unique relationship with the shared campus benefits the Mindstrong Academy students by allowing them to take one or more classes at a fully accredited K-12 school while flowing seamlessly between Arrowsmith classes and other classes offered next door at Pacific Academy.
Program Lead Teacher
Email Joy Toro
Growing up in a family of educators, I always wanted to be a teacher. I have both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts, as well as a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, from Point Loma Nazarene University. I have more than 20 years of teaching under my belt. Running an Arrowsmith classroom for the past seven years has been the most wonderful experience. Watching our students transform their brains and being able to live out their dream life is the best part of my job!
Email Keri Leasure
I have been involved in education as a speech/language pathologist for the past 25 years. I obtained my Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwest Nazarene University and my Master of Arts degree at San Diego State University. A highlight of my professional career has been witnessing the Arrowsmith Program change the lives of countless students during the past 7 years. I have been married for 28 years, and we have a son who is in college as well a daughter in high school. Outside of work, I love to sing and am currently part of the San Diego Chorus which brings me unspeakable joy!
MindStrong Academy is located in Encinitas next-door to Pacific Academy, a private preparatory school offering grades K-12. This setting provides a unique environment for students enrolled with MindStrong Academy to focus on individual growth while allowing participation in other classes, electives, sports, and extra-curricular activities.