To operate a nationally renowned organization serving our students through innovative programs, therapeutic services, use of advanced technology and comprehensive staff development.
Our program is unique in its ability to meet the needs of high-functioning students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or related learning differences, offering a robust academic and social curriculum that encourages the development of life skills essential in becoming self-sufficient adults. At AOWL, we know that the underlying needs of students with ASD and other disabilities need to be met before learning can take place. Our students grow and learn in a nurturing, positive, encouraging environment that enhances their self-esteem.
Academy of Whole Learning is a place where active minds are challenged by using a blended learning approach. Blended learning incorporates direct instruction in small groups of 2-3 students combined with computer-mediated activities. This allows the teachers to collect progress data, get immediate feedback, allowing the teacher to customize instruction and assessment while giving student control over time, place, path and pace. Along with using a blended learning approach, AOWL uses vertical integration (multi-ages grouped by learning level), allowing students to move at a flexible pace using various learning pathways to mastery. Students experience success because they are taught at their actual achievement levels to ensure mastery before introducing new concepts.
Academy of Whole Learning faculty and staff believe that all students have learning potential and do well if they CAN, which the school must identify, stimulate, and nurture. All children want to learn and do well. Our responsibility as educators is to discover how to motivate each student. We develop a plan that fosters curiosity and love of learning that best meets his or her individual educational needs.
Strategic Plan Update 2017-18
Our strategic plan, first written in 2015, drives our progress forward.Here are some completed initiatives from 2017-18.
Attract, retain and serve qualified students
- Implemented school-wide Positive Action Social and Emotional Learning curriculum
- Added Life Skills class for all upper school students
- Published high school course catalog
- Created Google sites for all classrooms
Attract, retain and support qualified staff and faculty
- Hired Greg Saunders as Director of Exceptional Learning
- Moved into larger building in July 2017
- Expanded Behavior Therapy department
- Commissioned salary survey in conjunction with the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management
- Increased Professional Development budget
Communicate and collaborate with families
- Began offering psychotherapy and counseling to students and families
- Piloted GradeLink — parent portal system
- Held monthly PTO meetings with updates in the school newsletter — The Bridge
- Implemented a proactive volunteer and recruitment process
Cultivate beneficial relationships with the community
- Established consultative services; invited into several local schools and businesses
- Presented at numerous workshops throughout the year
- Had eight local media placements on TV and in print
- Hired Cindy Schriever as Donor Relations Officer
Academic StandardsTo ensure all students are ready for success after high school, Academy of Whole Learning has established clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do from kindergarten through 12th grade. Standards and benchmarks are important because they: 1) identify the knowledge and skills developed for a specific grade level, grade band or developmental level; 2) help define the course credit requirements for graduation; and, 3) serve as a guide for the adoption and design of curricula. Consistent standards provide a way for teachers to measure student progress throughout the school year and ensure that students are on the pathway to success in their academic careers.
Academy of Whole Learning usesCommon Core State Standards for math and English Language Arts, Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards for social studies and Minnesota benchmarks for physical education; the standards below are used for other key content areas taught at AOWL.