Each day we will be featuring one of our (8) 2020 AOWL graduates. We are so very proud of each and every one of them. Congratulations on your success at AOWL and into the future!
Here’s what a few of our parents have to say about Academy of Whole Learning
It seems overly dramatic to say that Academy of Whole Learning gave me my child back. But it did. My daughter has a significant processing difference and ADHD. Not only was the world difficult to decode but it also was a constant source of frustration as she could not filter out the extra information to concentrate on decoding the things that she could process. She would become very frustrated and run away – physically and emotionally – from anything that was difficult for her to attempt. As a parent, this was heartbreaking to watch. It also made doing ordinary things, like going to the grocery store, somewhat challenging. As I write, we are nearing the end of our first year at AOWL. She has begun to read independently (SIX reading levels in a year), can decode numbers, and I no longer feel trapped by her needs. The rest of the world now can see the child I have always known was there, and my happy girl is back.
-Michelle Williams, parent
Sam was identified at 2 years of age with pervasive developmental delays and learning disorders. After daycare, he started ECSE and went on to Special Education programing through the Minneapolis Public Schools. While we always appreciated the teachers he had, he consistently stayed about two years behind in reading and other school topics, and didn’t seem motivated to improve. And while he liked the social aspects of school, his interaction with his friends never extended beyond the school day.
We struggled to find a school or school district that we thought would help until we went to an open house at AOWL and were wowed by what a good fit it could be. By the time we stepped out of the building (and with two weeks before applications were due for the next school year) we were more than willing to invest in Sam’s education for his school year.
Now, towards the end of his first year at AOWL, we see a huge improvement in Sam. His reading has improved tremendously, and we notice little things like him reading fortunes in fortune cookies. He has made friends and regularly has playdates with his classmates. Beyond the school day, AOWL does a great job with special after-school programming like coding, Lego and Minecraft clubs that Sam and his friends love. The school has a clear and well thought out mission and plan for growth, and all the teachers and staff are genuinely committed to the mission of the school and, most importantly, to the students. We couldn’t be happier.
-Lisa Villalta and Perry Leo, parents
Our son is a unique young man with a variety of learning disabilities and developmental delays. He muddled through his elementary years not quite fitting in with mainstream students, but also not quite fitting within the special education programming. When he was in fifth grade, we began to notice that he was losing self-confidence as he began to recognize how learning was more difficult for him. We discovered AOWL after it was recommended to us by one of our son’s practitioners. It seemed too good to be true on paper and we are so grateful to discover it has been everything we hoped for. Our son bounds out of the car in the morning, excited to see his buddies and go to school. He is able to receive services like OT and speech therapy within the course of his school day, making our over-scheduled lives that much easier. Best of all, our son is a confident sixth-grader who now takes pride in his successes.
-John and Candace Randle, parents
Now that my sons have been at AOWL for nearly two years, I can see what a difference the school has made for them. The quiet, calm, and peaceful atmosphere has allowed them to focus in the classroom instead of using up all of their mental energy on tuning out distractions.
For one of my sons, the ability to work at his own level has allowed for a natural curiosity to emerge and has cut down on some of the frustration and anxiety that he used to experience with reading.
Because social and emotional learning is emphasized throughout the day, my boys have made great gains as well. One son has gone from being quiet to sharing ideas and stories readily. This year for the first time I hear stories from both of them about their “friends at school” and I hear recaps of conversation that took place with other students and teachers.
Every afternoon when I pick them up from school I’m barely out of the parking lot before they are clamoring to tell me what specialist they had or about something that they had fun with at school. I love that they are excited about school and I’m glad to see them feeling proud about their accomplishments.
I’m thankful for the kind and caring teachers and all of the staff that make AOWL a great experience for my sons.
-Allison Barosko, parent
Our son came to AOWL after a long school career in public schools, and as he grew older, we noticed that his academic needs were met less and less and he was marginalized more and more. We knew a change needed to happen, and that is when, fortuitously, we found out about AOWL. I think it was the student visit, when our son left smiling and happy and calm, that is when we knew we had made the right choice. His transition was much easier than we anticipated, mostly due to the amazing staff and teachers at AOWL. Now he is sailing through reading levels, and doing cool STEM experiments and, as a shock to us, loving his music and art classes. I really could never say enough about the awesome teachers and the calm, caring environment that accepts all kids as potential learners, who all have a unique and positive path forward – being part of a school that values your child, that is the ultimate goal and we feel lucky to have found that in AOWL. Our son is thriving academically and growing socially, and perhaps the best part is he no longer dreads school, no more morning battles! We are happy we found AOWL and would recommend it to any parent looking for a school that accepts all learners, meets them where they are at, and helps them grow.
-Clare Davis, parent
We have a child who started in the 3rd grade at AOWL. School overall was not a positive experience in the past. Anxiety, lack of friends and difficulty learning in the situation given were all concerns. The most immediate change we experienced with the move to AOWL was a decrease in anxiety. We walked him in on the first day and ever since he as been walking in himself. We saw this as a small step in the right direction. He now looks forward to seeing friends every day, and it is no longer an issue to get through the front doors of school or to make it through the day. He is now developing a positive relationship with school, and to make it even better we were able to wean him off anti-anxiety medication over time.
Our child has always been interested in peers and friendships but needed the self-confidence boost and social support to further develop the friendships. As our time progressed with AOWL, we were so happy to see this develop more and more. AOWL’s consistent and patient support to the social aspect of school really has helped him develop his friendships. We have been lucky to be able to host so many play dates at our home and to get to know other families in our school community.
Academics are a concern in our family. We are definitely looking towards the future, making sure we are planning and keeping all of our children in a positive learning environment so they will be ready for their future. Now that anxiety is under control and the social piece is developing, we are seeing learning happening. We understand it takes time in a new school and it takes time to individualize how kids learn best. However, as a family, we are experiencing new and great achievements within and outside of school. There are still academic areas that are being looked at and tweaked throughout the year but that is why it has been so key to have an individualized learning plan.
It was a big decision to move our child once again from school to another school. However, looking back at past experiences and now, we are thankful for AOWL, and very grateful that we were able to make the change. Our family will be forever grateful for this option. We love that he is experiencing his childhood/school in many ways that are the same to other children, i.e.. play dates, after school clubs, school projects such as research presentations, plays, science projects and community field trips. AOWL has really changed our son’s outlook in so many positive ways. We look forward to our future relationship with AOWL as we help our child figure school and life out.
-Sherri Knopik, parent