This is a  staff list for John Dewey Academy in Great Barrington, MA

(we are working to acquire the complete records for ALL years)


We advise current and/or former staff to report any abuses you may have witnessed while working at John Dewey Academy.  For information on your rights and how to take action, visit  If you were fired or forced to resign because you opposed any illegal and/or unethical practices at John Dewey Academy, you have the right to take action. 


If you were harmed (family or survivor) by John Dewey Academy, please contact if you remember the long-term employees and from which years.  This will help!   Also, if you recognize any of these staff as having worked at another program, please send in any information about their past or present employment at other facilities and/or cults.



Please don’t place your loved one in John Dewey Academy and rescue them if they are there now. 




Additional Information
Thomas Bratter Founder/President (as of 2009) Thomas Bratter founded John Dewey Academy in 1985.  Later in this article it states another incident: "In 1995, Bratter pleaded no contest in Connecticut to a state charge of second-degree unlawful restraint, which involved his relationship with a 17-year-old girl. As part of his plea agreement, he received a suspended one-year sentence and was required to perform 500 hours of community service and donate $50,000 to a charity that dealt with victims of crime or abuse."  Bratter has lost his license by voluntary surrender or agreed not to renew.
Robert Andenmatten Teacher Former experience: CEO of a Petroleum Transport and Storage Industry.
Carole Bratter Vice President/Co-Founder Experience: Travel Agent and VP of Westchester Region of Hadassah.
Jill Leda Brown "House Parent"  
Edgar Chamorro Teacher Experience: Special Ambassador to the General Assembly of the United Nations.  (hmmm..  Like Mel Sembler of Straight, Inc.)
Nancy Coiner Teacher  
Andrea Esperat Clinician (B.S. Degree) Interned at Behavioral Health Center of Carolinas Medical Center.
Christian Holland Teacher  
John Schneyer Groundskeeper  
Lisa Sinsheimer Parent Liaison Monitors and determines when and if parents are allowed to speak to or see their own children.
Michael Sletcher Teacher  
Kenneth Steiner Clinician Experience at Austen Riggs Psychiatric Center and Berkshire Farms Center for Youth.
Sherry Steiner Teacher Gallery Owner.
Lisa Buttrey-Thomas Teacher Our teachers...Know that each student is capable of achieving success and becoming a worthwhile person.

(From their website as of July 22nd, 2009).  Please note that all children are worthwhile people.  And, that an attitude that they do not have inherent value is opposed to a healthy, self-esteem building agenda.  At least they admit that they are out to view your child as sub-human until they manipulate and coerce them into new people.)

Phil Freund Teacher Freund no longer appears to work for this program.
Michael Gould Teacher Gould no longer appears to work for this program.
Judy Oates "House Parent" Experience: Journalism and Public Relations (PR).  She also worked for Riverbrook Residence.  Oates no longer appears to work for this program.
NO OTHER NAMES NO OTHER TITLES Please contact us with information on staff and their histories.*
(John Dewey Academy, like many other programs in this industry, keeps a "tight lid" on any specific information regarding their staff, qualifications, and practices.  Please contact us with the names of any staff of which you have firsthand knowledge or experience.  Thank you for your help.)
Family of Survivor Statement: Ross R. submitted feedback.  For more information on submitting feedback about any program on our watch-list or content of our website(s), visit .  Thank you.

All segregated congregate care providers, including those on our watch-list, are welcome to contact us to correct any information or provide additional data that may assist with delivering the whole truth to the public.  We've found in many cases where this offer has been abused or resulted in revealing additional basis for our concerns. For some examples see: and  Now, we are willing to look at the facts and may have questions or require documentation backing up any claims.  We do verify licensing, academic backgrounds, and other qualifications when investigating and researching programs on our watch-list to assist consumers seeking additional information on such programs or victims requiring assistance with getting corroborating evidence of their claims.  We do that in order to make sure the information we provide is accurate and verified and cite our sources.  In the event any information we've posted is in error, we're happy to make a correction.  And, for information on how such requests are handled and have been resolved historically, see:

HEAL does not support segregated congregate care for many reasons which include that many such facilities are abusive, exploitative, fraudulent, and lack effective oversight often as a result of fraudulent misrepresentation coupled with the ignorance of those seeking to enroll loved ones in such facilities, programs, schools, or centers without a valid court order and involuntarily.  In the United States such involuntary placements done without a court order are apparently illegal as they either violate the Americans with Disabilities Act community integration requirement or due process rights of those involuntarily placed.  Now, in regards to parents, in the United States parents have the right to waive their own rights, but, not the rights of their minor children.  See for more information.  Now, most facilities on our watch list include waivers, indemnity clauses, and sworn statements parents must sign assuring the program that the parents have the right to make the placement involuntarily and without due process in a segregated congregate care environment, however, California and federal prosecutors as well as settled law appears to suggest that is not the case.  In fact, in the David Taylor case found at, Taylor sued Provo Canyon School and his mother as co-defendants.  His mother was found liable for 75% of the damages awarded to Taylor as a result of multiple complaints including false imprisonment, while the program was found only 25% liable because the mother owed a duty of due diligence to investigate anyone to which she would entrust care of her child and she failed to do so. 

Now, HEAL opposes segregated congregate care and we find most placements are happening illegally in the USA which if the youth understood their rights would result in unfortunate outcomes for the parents, particularly when they don't exercise good judgment and support the fraud and abuse rather than their own children when they need remedy and justice.  And, HEAL supports all victims of fraud and abuse in seeking remedies at law for any crimes or torts committed against them.  And, that's true whether or not the program or victims are in the USA. 

HEAL has a 5 point argument against segregated congregate care we'd like you to consider:

a.  Segregated care is unconstitutional and a civil rights violation.  It is only permissible if a person is unable to survive independent of an institutional environment.  For more on this, watch the HEAL Report at  Or, see:  which includes in part:    "United States v. Florida – 1:12-cv-60460 – (S.D. Fla.) – On April 7, 2016, the United States filed an Opposition to the State of Florida’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.  In the Motion, the State had asked the Court to rule, on a variety of grounds, that the United States could not recover damages for unnecessarily institutionalized children to whom the State had been deliberately indifferent."

b.  Institutionalization is always dehumanizing and coercive.  Institutionalization always harms the institutionalized and deprives them of protected civil rights.  Dr. David Straker, Psychiatry Professor at Columbia University's School of Medicine (Ivy League) explains this in detail at  "Many institutions, from prisons to monasteries to asylums, deliberately want to control and manage their inmates such that they conform and do not cause problems. Even in less harsh environments, many of the institutionalization methods may be found, albeit in more moderated form (although the psychological effect can be equally devastating)."  (See website linked in this paragraph for more info.)

c.  Institutionalization is not in the best interest of children.  Institutions are not ever better for a child than living with a loving family.  Source:       

d.  Reform schools, residential treatment programs, and other segregated congregate care settings have been shown to be ineffective and harmful.  Best source on this currently is:

e. Boarding Schools, even the "good ones", result in a form of social death, isolation, and cause both anxiety and depression.  Therefore, it is clearly not in the best interest of the youth subjected to those environments.  Sources: and

Beyond the above arguments against segregated congregate care, we have reports from the NIH, Surgeon General, Yale University Studies, and much more showing the methodologies of behavior modification are damaging, harmful, and ineffective.  You can request these documents via e-mail.  In addition, for such programs offering academic services or claiming to offer diplomas, certifications, or the like, it is important to check to see if it is a diploma mill with no accredited academic services.  Please see article: "Avoiding Scams: What You Need To Know"  for important information on how to avoid education/training scams.

If you'd like to see what HEAL suggests rather than segregated congregate care (i.e. committing a crime or tort against your child if done against their will without a court order), please see articles: "Fix Your Family, Help Your Teen" and "Emancipation Guide".

If you have a complaint against any facility, please file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency or your home state's attorney general.  For reporting resources see:  (Reporting guide is for USA only at this time.)
In Massachusetts, the criminal statutes of limitation are 6 years on misdemeanors, 10 years on most felonies, and no statute of limitations on more serious felonies including rape of a minor under age 14 at time of rape and murder.  For civil suits in Massachusetts, the statute of limitations is 3 years.  Here are your options:
1.  Report crimes such as fraud, assault, battery, false imprisonment, rape, labor trafficking, and child abuse to law enforcement in Massachusetts.  You can call the Great Barrington Police at (413) 528-0306   to inquire about filing an official complaint which when filed may provide the probable cause needed to get a warrant for investigation and/or prosecution. 
2.  File a consumer complaint with your home state's attorney general against John Dewey Academy and include your request for compensation for any harm done to you.  You can find the easy online forms for filing such a complaint (which may result in an investigation, prosecution, and/or civil resolution on your case) under your home state's (state where you currently reside) header at .  If your home state is Massachusetts or you'd like to file with the Massachusetts State Attorney General as a non-resident, here is that link and form:

3.  If you do not wish to file a consumer complaint, you can contact a private personal injury attorney and look into suing in tort/civil court.  However, if you can't afford the retainer, you should expect to settle out of court with a non-disclosure agreement which may bar you from speaking publicly about the incident because you've agreed (even if with a grumbling assent) to the terms of the settlement.  You can find legal resources at  and legal causes of action related to institutionalized abuse claims at .
4.  You may post a statement about your experience at your program on our unmoderated message board at  OR send a new e-mail to with subject "Post My Feedback" and we will post your feedback (e-mail printed to .pdf disclosing your name and e-mail address and any information in your e-mail with that subject) to  and add a direct link to those .pdf files to this page . 

 5. You may also wish to provide a guest sermon.  Guest sermons are posted at , under Progress Reports/Guest Sermons at  where appropriate, and on program info pages when applicable.  So, one provided by you on your program would also be placed on this page .  Guest sermons should be written into the body of an e-mail and sent to . Your first and last name will be disclosed (contact info will not be unless you expressly ask for that).  For sermons available on our site see  (and sermon archives linked on that page).  If you have questions about this option, please contact Please see  to get an idea what your sermon may be worth.
Article Link:
Article Link:
Article Link:
Article Link:
Article Link:
5/19/21: COPE Conversion Program Progress Report: John Dewey Academy


 Last Updated: May 19th, 2021

Return to or top of page