School for Students with Autism Coming to Golden Valley
A unique private school for kids with autism or related neurodevelopmental disorders is moving to Golden Valley. Academy of Whole Learning is currently leasing a building in Minnetonka. The school serves a little more than 70 students.
Academy of Whole Learning
Morgan is in seventh grade and has been attending Academy of Whole Learning for 5 years. Morgan’s mom, Michelle Williams, said the school changed their lives.
“Academy of Whole Learning gave me my daughter back,” said Michelle. “My child got to be a child, she went up 5 reading levels her first year here.”
The school has a behavioral and mental health clinic, an adult program and summer programs. The academy also has a low student/teacher ratio, this means each class only has two staff and about 8 kids.
Moving To Golden Valley
Since 2003, Academy of Whole Learning have leased buildings to serve its students but that will change next year. The school found a permanent home in Golden Valley on the corner of Boone and 10th Avenues.
“The building we bought is about 40,000 square feet. Plus we’ll add a gym which will be another 5-6,000 square feet,” explained Wyayn Rasmussen, the executive director of the academy. “It’s a dream. It’s perfect.”
The Golden Valley location has a larger space which will allow for growth. One side of the building will likely serve as the behavioral and mental health clinic, while the other side will be the school. Most importantly, the school can design spaces to fit student needs.
Michelle explained that currently, staff need to tape blue plastic over lights to tone down the florescence frequency because it’s bothersome to students. But with the new Golden Valley building, blue covers and sensory covers can be incorporated into the building.
Donations Made New Building Possible
“We’ve had had a number of donors step up, which allowed us to buy the building for cash, which is incredible” Rasmussen said. “Now we are continuing to raise money for the remodel on the inside.”
The Golden Valley location will only be a small distance further for some families, but Michelle says it’s worth the drive.
“I can honestly say I have hope that my daughter will be an independent adult. When we started here five years ago, I didn’t have that hope,” said Michelle.