The Legacy

John McKinnon MD


John McKinnon MD

BA, English Literature, Harvard College
Magna cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
MA, Economics, Cambridge University (UK)
MD, Case Western Reserve University
Alpha Omega Alpha
MFA, Fiction, Norwich University
Psychiatric Resident Training: Yale University
School of Medicine, Dept of Psychiatry

Licensure & Certifications:
American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology
Medical Licensure (Montana)

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Associate Director of Resident Training, University of California (UCSF)
Chief, Outpatient Psychiatric Services, San Francisco VA Medical Center
Clinical Director, Adolescent Psychiatry & Substance Abuse, Charter Hospital of Fort Worth, TX
Medical Director, Pathways Treatment Center
(Psychiatry Service, Kalispell Regional Medical Center)
Private Practice, Adult and Adolescent Psychiatry
Co-Founder, Montana Academy
Founder, Montana Academy Foundation

Rosemary McKinnon MSW


Rosemary McKinnon MSW

BA, Oriental Studies, Cambridge University
MA, Social Anthropology, Cambridge University
MSW, School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University

Licensure & Certifications:
Licensed Clinical Social Worker-Montana

2 year fellowship in child evaluation and treatment at Yale Child Study Center
4 years as senior clinician with Center for the Family in Transition in Marin County, CA working with divorcing families
25 years private practice in CT, CA, TX, & MT

Carol Santa PhD


Carol Santa PhD

BA, Psychology, Whitman College
MS, Elementary Education, Purdue University
PhD, Psychology and Psychology of Reading, Temple University

John Santa PhD


John Santa PhD

PhD, Cognitive Psychology, Purdue University
MS, Cognitive Psychology, Purdue University
BA, Psychology, Whitman College

Dr. Santa is one of four founding members of Montana Academy and is a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of Montana. Dr. Santa’s post doctorate work took place in Cognitive Psychology at Stanford University, and Clinical Psychology at the University of Montana, and UC San Diego. In addition, Dr. Santa has specialty training in the areas of Clinical Neurology and Child Psychology and was an Associate Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University. Dr. Santa has been influential in the industry of therapeutic programs and is one of the original founding members of the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP) and has served as the organization’s president. Dr. Santa maintains a strong clinical presence on campus amongst treatment teams, throughout the admissions process and regularly presents at family workshops throughout the year.

John A. McKinnon, MD

Two decades ago we created a novel residential school to get around three obstacles to effective treatment for troubled teenagers: (a) conventional symptom-centered, pathologizing misdiagnosis of relative immaturity, the actual cause of most students’ academic and interpersonal problems and symptoms; (b) the outlandish cost of conventional inpatient care; and (c) insurance companies’ refusal to pay for residential care to actually address these problems, rather than reimbursing merely for pills and ineffective outpatient symptom relief.  Our goal always was: to mitigate obstacles to development and to help parents support and prod stuck teenagers to grow up.  We were not invariably successful, but often our results were dramatic and life-changing, just what parents hoped for, and so highly unusual in psychiatry and deeply rewarding for us all.  

Rosemary McKinnon, MSW

The act of imagination which went into the founding of Montana Academy was a collective one. We each had ideas about what we hoped to do but we shared some fundamental precepts. In my role as Director of Admissions I sought to glean as much information as possible in order to assess the developmental nature of troubling teenage behaviors and for many years I knew the story of every student on campus and that of their parents.  This was a privilege and one out of which a good many friendships emerged.  Some of these friendships have been sustained over time. Together we have grieved over failures and celebrated the successes of our students.  Nothing has been more satisfying than to have them return to campus to share their stories and to bring their partners with them to see where an important piece of their lives took place. 

MA-Horse-Therapy-Program

Carol Santa, PhD

I have spent my entire professional life steeped in education.  I was a classroom teacher, reading specialist, college professor, and curriculum director of the Kalispell schools. More importantly, as a mother, I had first-hand experience dealing with an extremely bright son who struggled through high school.His struggles and our own as parents inspired us to start a school that would meet the needs of bright, disengaged adolescents like my son. Montana Academy represents that dream.  What a privilege it has been to be surrounded by exceptional teachers who are not only outstanding in their fields, but know how to build relationships with our students. As an academic team, we created a learning environment for struggling teens that allowed them to regain a positive sense of self.  I have loved observing students realize their academic potential, graduate from high school and confidently going off to college.  

John L. Santa, PhD

Montana Academy is the capstone of my career as a psychologist.  Being an academic psychologist was intellectually stimulating; private practice was fulfilling and meaningful in the many relationships and sense of purpose in helping people sort out their lives.  However, Montana Academy has called on all parts of me to mentor, and support a team of bright, committed staff and collaborate with equally engaged students and parents to create this magnificent and special culture.  What a privilege it has been to engage with staff and families as we all struggled to resolve past narratives to create a promising path forward for these remarkable, talented youngsters.  It has taken vision, persistence, love, and strength, but how rewarding to see these young lives engage and move forward.  

Read The History of Montana Academy