POST FALLS – The parent of a dyslexic child, Alyssa Pukkila cobbled together enough funds six years ago to start a private therapeutic school introducing innovative learning methods for students with learning disabilities.
“The public school system writes them off,” said Pukkila, president and owner of Wired2Learn Academy, a school in Post Falls serving 15 students with four learning coaches, none of whom are certified teachers — three have degrees in psychology and one is in college.
The school’s cognitive approach is founded on research demonstrating the brain’s capacity to adapt its physical structure and functional organization through targeted training.
“The (public) schools didn’t have the right kind of remediation or enough people trained,” Pukkila said.
Parents are willing to pay $25,000 annually to attend Wired2Learn because they’re searching for an alternative. About 63 students have passed through her school since it opened.
“They’ve watched their child fail and lose belief in themselves,” Pukkila said. “The kids in this population are at very high risk for self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, incarceration, and the list goes on.”
Pukkila believes many of her students have experienced “educational trauma,” because some teachers don’t understand what’s happening in the brain. “So they get held in at recess. They get told things like ‘you’re stupid, you’re lazy, you’re just gonna fail in school because you’re not willing to try.’”
Wired2Learn is succeeding. One parent said her son with special needs failed all of his high school classes during his junior year at public school. She took money out of her retirement to pay for the Wired2Learn tuition, and it was worth it. He flourished in the new environment, thanks to the academy’s learning methods.
Wired2Learn occupies a renovated 5,000-square-foot building that used to be a dance studio. It serves grades 3-12. Administrators are working on gaining accreditation through Cognia.