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We develop children who become
catalysts of their own success

The Pilot School’s program is designed to follow a specific arc that results in students who are:

Independent Learners

Students who can comfortably navigate new learning environments, automatically and effortlessly applying strategies that work, ultimately finding success regardless of the challenge.

Self Advocates

Students who know what they need to be successful and can articulate those needs to others. Students who have practice in gathering the resources they require in any given situation.

Happy Confident Children

Students who are proud of their learning differences, who love

learning in the ways that are unique to them, and who feel confident and excited about their own bright future.

High School Placement is an important part of Pilot’s Upper Division program. Over the last ten years, our graduates have attended:

  • AIM Academy
  • Archmere Academy
  • Bishop Shanahan High School
  • Brewster Academy
  • Cardinal O’Hara High School
  • Centreville Layton School
  • Delaware Valley Friends School
  • Gow School
  • Northwoods School
  • Padua Academy
  • Phelps School
  • The Rectory School
  • Salesianum School
  • Sanford School
  • St. Elizabeth’s High School
  • St. Mark’s High School
  • The Tatnall School
  • Tower Hill School
  • Ursuline Academy
  • Westtown School
  • West Nottingham Academy
  • Wildwood Catholic Academy
  • Wilmington Christian School
  • Wilmington Friends School
  • Woodlynde School
  • Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey Public High Schools

Meet Some of Our Graduates

John Lippincott “Johnny Duke

Years at Pilot: 1999 – 2002
Current Profession:
Guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and music producer

I came to The Pilot School because of difficulties in learning, which at times felt very alienating. In revisiting this part of my life 20 years later, I can see the picture with much more clarity. My natural tendency to “think differently” is actually pretty awesome. I value having a unique perspective in life and Pilot is a school that celebrates that in such a beautiful way. I have so much gratitude for The Pilot School.

After Pilot, Johnny attended Sanford School and then Berklee College of Music where he graduated with a Professional Music major in 2009. He is the recipient of the D’Addario Strings Scholarship for outstanding achievement. As a multi-instrumentalist, Johnny was lead guitarist for Little Big Town and has performed with Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, Sheryl Crow, Chris Issac, and others. Johnny has released two solo albums and lives in Nashville, where he runs Spirit Radio Studios and lives with his wife and young son.

Johnny was the commencement speaker at Pilot’s 2022 graduation ceremony.

Ben Knisely

Years at Pilot: 1996 – 2002
Current Profession:
Associate Director of Photo & Video, Emory University

Like many kids that attend Pilot, I struggled learning in a “traditional” setting. From day one, Pilot leaned into my strengths and supported my weaknesses. Because of the intimate class sizes, I found that I was never lost or left behind.

Today, I’m a video producer, and have been doing so professionally for over ten years. But that spark started at Pilot. Twenty-five years ago, it was cutting-edge for students to produce their own music videos for class. But that’s what we did! From then on, I was hooked!

And for all of my struggles in math and English as a young child; I now confidently use them on a daily basis! As a part of my job, I write compelling narratives through both scripts and storyboard, and I use math formulas to generate motion graphics. And it all stems from my years at Pilot. The strong foundation that Pilot provided, allowed me to proceed with confidence throughout high school, college, and my career. I wouldn’t be where I am without that.

Amanda Castro, M.D.

Years at Pilot: 1987 – 1995
Current Profession:
Psychiatrist, Nemours Children’s Hospital

I was a student at Pilot from 1987 to 1995. My journey began there after kindergarten when we discovered I had a visual processing disorder secondary to a visual deficit known as amblyopia. The small class sizes offered at Pilot were a huge asset and provided a lot of individualized attention and the teachers were extremely supportive. After Pilot I attended Tatnall for high school. After graduation, I completed my undergraduate studies at Syracuse University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2004. After college I had a career path change and chose to attend The University of Pennsylvania’s Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program to complete the requirements for medical school admission. I attended Sidney Kimmel Medical College/Jefferson and graduated in 2012.  I chose a medical specialty in Psychiatry and in 2017 completed residency and a pediatric fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

In 2017 I started my first job in Wilmington, DE as an attending Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at AI Dupont/Nemours Children’s Hospital. After four years at Nemours doing clinical work and teaching of medical students and residents, I decided to pursue a new telemedicine opportunity at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania. I am now part of a program providing virtual mental health care to a rural, underserved population. I currently am also an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Neuroscience Institute at Geisinger School of Medicine where I can continue my love of teaching medical students and residents. My husband Jack and I currently reside in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania and have a two young daughters Isabela and Sophia. Looking back, I have Pilot to thank for supporting my growth in self-confidence from a very young age and encouragement to be myself, have fun while learning, and to find strengths in my differences.

Philip Crichton

Years at Pilot: 1957 – 1964

Profession:  Retired

Computer Scientist specializing in information assurance (IA), US Army RDECOM CERDEC S&TCD CSIAD

Fort Monmouth, NJ., Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD

I entered Pilot in its second year (1958)  when the student body jumped 60%, from 5 to 8 at Christ Church. I was among the 4 of the first graduating class at Bancroft Parkway in 1964.  The high school years followed at The Forman School in Litchfield CT, where I graduated in 1969.  In that same year I entered Monmouth College where I graduated in 1974 with a degree in Mathematics.  I made a special point to invite Doris LeStourgeon to my graduation and to my honor and delight, she attended.  It was at Monmouth that I met my future wife, Judith.  My career began in 1976 as a computer programmer for an insurance company, the same year Judith and I married.  In 1982, I began work with the US Army as a Computer Scientist where my research, development and engineering career took me from displays research through information assurance and security development and management.  The following year our son Philip was born and has grown into an exceptional man with a wonderful wife and son.  I began volunteer work with the Boy Scouts of America in 1990 when Philip entered Cub Scouts. Over 25 years  I had been honored with the District Award of Merit, Silver Beaver, Wood Badge fourth bead, and the Vigil Honor among others.  I remain a committed Scouter to this day.  Both Judith and I are now retired and reside in Newark, DE. My regards and appreciation for The Pilot School and the exceptional teachers and staff holds no bounds.  Thank you Doris!

Robert Richter

Years at Pilot: 1959 – 1962
Current Profession:
Retired Attorney

I started at Pilot after kindergarten. In my three years there, The Pilot School taught me to read, love learning, and love school. After Pilot, I attended Greenville Elementary School, graduating from Alexis I. DuPont High School, the University of Delaware and Widener University School. I practiced law for 37 years in Wilmington. For the last 16 years of practice, I was a director at Elzufon, Austin, and Mondell. My practice primarily focused on representing employers in workers’ compensation litigation. I retired July 1, 2018 and moved to Palm Springs, CA. I spend much of my time involved in volunteer activities. I’m currently a member of the vestry of the church I attend and president of the Biltmore Colony HOA. I also volunteer at Bob Hope USO locations at Palm Springs International Airport and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, CA.

I am forever grateful to my parents for sending me to Pilot and to Ms. Doris LeStourgeon (Pilot’s director from its 1957 inception until 1998) and my teachers at Pilot for their tutelage, guidance, patience, and discipline. The Pilot School played a major element in my successful career and happy life.

Paul Biancaniello

Years at Pilot: 1984 – 1991
Current Profession:
Senior Research Scientist, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories

I struggled at school in my early years. In first grade, I couldn’t read or write. I didn’t even know my alphabet. I remember crying everyday, clinging to my mother, begging her to let me stay home and hide from my embarrassment. Though my mother never gave in, she understood my struggles, having gone through a similar one during her childhood. After I was diagnosed with dyslexia, things became clear for my family. For the first time in my mother’s life she understood her own struggles as a dyslexic child. She made it her mission to make my experience different than hers. It was clear that public school was not the right environment for me, but none of the ”specialty” schools in our area were willing to accept a student with my level of dyslexia. I was eventually enrolled in The Pilot School an hour away from our home. My grandfather would drive in from Philadelphia every morning to take me to school, which helped spawn a deep relationship between him and me over the years. I’m forever in debt to my family for everything they’ve done for me. They supported me throughout my life, through all of my early struggles with education, and I love them deeply for it.

I am also deeply indebted to The Pilot School for all of their support. Their teachers, staff, and students were instrumental to my success. Each of my teachers worked with me on an individual level and at an appropriate pace. I never felt overwhelmed by their teachings or less than my peers as I did in public school. Instead of pitting me against my peers in a classroom competition for the best grade (which was common practice in my previous school), teachers at The Pilot School were more concerned with helping me understand knowledge, by emphasizing my strengths and working patiently on my weaknesses. Every student at The Pilot School was special; some were poor at math and good at reading while others were the opposite. Instead of forcing me to keep up with my peers by making me learn from the same textbooks as them, teachers at The Pilot School would only use materials that were appropriate to my needs. For example, in a classroom of eight students, five of them might learn math from a slightly different textbook. All of these factors (and many more) helped me to overcome my disabilities.

After graduating from The Pilot School, I continued my education through high school, college, and graduate school. I eventually graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Ph.D. in Physics. I currently live in Philadelphia and work at a laboratory in New Jersey, where I study theoretical neuroscience and artificial intelligence. It is not the most common of professions, but it stimulates my intellect tremendously. I am also an avid yoga practitioner and teach weekly yoga classes in Philadelphia. I truly believe that I could not be where I am today without the help of my family and The Pilot School. Their support in my earlier years set the foundation from which all of my later successes were built and for that I am forever grateful.

Jeff Ickes

Years at Pilot: 1982 – 1987
Current Profession:
Special Education Teacher, Brandywine High School

Since Pilot, I graduated from Concord High School, received a BA in Health Behavioral Management from the University of Delaware, worked as a Treatment Specialist at Ferris School, received my Master’s Degree in Education, and became a teacher. I now have my Doctorate in Educational Leadership and am a Special Education teacher at a public high school. I am married with three children living in Wilmington, DE.

Alexis Pokorny

Years at Pilot: 1991 – 1993
Current Profession:
Account Manager, Cisco Systems, Greater Washington, DC territory

My two years at Pilot prepared me for a very bright future. Although I always struggled, my Dad repeatedly told me to have a positive attitude and to work hard – even if I had to work harder then everyone else.

Attending Kennett Square High School, I used my unique ways of thinking to help me as Captain of Tennis Team, Homecoming Queen, and Editor and Chief of the yearbook. At North Carolina State University, I used that hard work mentality to graduate with a 4.0, Summa Cum Laud, with Honors, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

After college I was selected out of 3,000 applicants for year-long sales training program for Cisco. Although I had no experience in IT or sales- I took on the challenge. At Cisco I have held a variety of positions but continue to set aggressive goals and learn as much as I can along the way. After becoming Channel Account Manager of the East, I have been promoted to an Account Manager covering Washington, DC for Cisco.

I volunteer with Humane Society, am a certified Pilates Instructor, learning how to play the guitar, started a book club and love to cook vegetarian meals. Most important, I love my supportive family, I am passionate about everything I do and still believe in Hard Work and a Positive Attitude.

Joy Peoples

Years at Pilot: 1993 – 1998
Current Profession:

I attended Pilot from 1993 to 1998. It was those five years of my life that inspired me to who I am today. My dream is to inspire young students with learning differences, like myself, to achieve what they feel is the impossible. Just as the teachers at Pilot inspired me to do. I attended high school at St. Mark’s and graduated in 2003. While at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, I participated in a wide variety of activities. These included, a student ambassador for the University, member of Kapa Delta Pi Honor Society in Education, and captain of the varsity crew team. Before I knew it, it was May 2007 and I was graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education. I went on to be a Middle Division teacher at The Pilot School.

Andrew Unthank

Years at Pilot: 2000 – 2002
Current Profession:
Financial Technology

I came to Pilot in the year Y2K (2000). I was nervous about changing schools after spending my Pre-K to 6th grade years at Wilmington Friends School. Socially, I fit in well at Friends but had a hard time keeping up academically. The Pilot School during my three years 2000-2002 changed my life and gave me the foundation needed to put me on track to be a successful student in the classroom, not just a social butterfly. The Pilot Schools gives its students the ability to critically think not only in the classroom but beyond the classroom. After Pilot I attended Concord High School in Wilmington, DE. The lessons learned at Pilot carried me through my years at Concord and all the way to the University of Delaware where I was a member of the Varsity Men’s Lacrosse team. Post college I attended Durham University in the United Kingdom and earned a Master of Science in Business Management. It’s because of teachers, students, and faculty at The Pilot School that I have been able to navigate life post Pilot and find experiences and a career that suits my skills and fuels my love for learning. I am forever grateful to The Pilot School and the community behind it. Without it I would most likely not be who I am or where I am today, which is currently in the financial services industry at a NYC based FinTech platform. Thank you, Pilot!

Ready to Join The Pilot Family?

If you believe in our mission of supporting students to become independent learners, self advocates, and happy and confident children, then why not take the next step towards joining The Pilot School? Submit an inquiry today and we will reach out to you with more information about our admissions process.