SCOTTSDALE, AZ - A lot of students struggle in school and if you're coping with a learning deficiency classes can be even more challenging. But one Valley school is helping kids unlock a new way of learning.
"The student ratio is about one to six," said Dawn Gutierrez, New Way Learning Academy's Head of School. She said students attending the independent school suffer from learning disabilities or as they're called here "learning differences."
"A lot of the students when they come to us have totally shut down they've been made to feel like they're a failure," said Gutierrez.
Since 1968, the independent K-12 school in Scottsdale has turned failures into success stories. Elijah Colon is one of them.
"I used to didn't know how to divide, now I do," Colon said proudly. "I know how to divide fractions and add them, subtract them, and multiply them."
The 12-year-old is even playing football, something he never had the courage to try.
"I was learning something but the teacher was going at a fast pace and everybody was already knowing this stuff," Colon explained.
"To see a child struggle," Elijah's grandmother Debbie Tingley said with tears in her eyes. "And as parent or grandparents to get that point across to anyone who'll listen in the school system is very difficult."
Tingley sent ABC15 an e-mail about the school. She explained she is raising her grandson who has a learning disability and he has been attending New Way Academy for six months. Her letter read in part:
"The staff and teachers are very passionate and continually do selfless acts above and beyond their call of duty for these students and I am in awe every day of their commitment."
New Way Learning Academy was founded by two Valley mothers who are now grandmothers and retired. Their goal: to provide educational programs based on academic, physchological, speech and language and motor skills assessments.
Colon's grandparents kept fighting and enrolling their grandson in different public and charter schools until the found New Way Academy.
"Having a learning difference you're constantly being told that you're not going to make it," cried Tingley. "Sometimes you can be told you're stupid or not have patience."
Colon's new way of learning is giving him pride and a brighter future.
"The teachers pay more attention to you than in a public school and if you do something everybody knows it," Colon smiled.
New Way Academy is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization approved by the Arizona Department of Education. The school operates on tuition which costs $19,750 a year including therapy. Need-based scholarships are available.
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