My son struggled in public school. By 3rd grade the stress at school was taking a toll. His self esteem was taking major hits. My happy, sweet son was fading away, withdrawing. He was being bullied. He really wanted friends but no one wanted to be his friend & he couldn’t figure out how to make it work. He was lonely & I could not help him. He was making all A’s but somehow didn’t know how to do his homework. I knew he was just getting pushed through. My unique, kind, beautiful child was invisible to his teachers & classmates. I was at the school all the time begging for help for him. Things might get better for a week or so but then back came the bullying or the isolation.
I began looking for schools. When I spoke with the admin at GLA I felt so hopeful & I scheduled a tour of the school. I couldn’t believe what I saw. PEERS for my son. He is not alone. I am not alone. There are other families like ours. I cried as a drove away. I felt relief, finally. He did his 3 day test visit in April 2013 with the plan to finish up the school year in public school & to start GLA in the Fall, provided it was a good fit. After just the 3 day visit I saw something change in my son. It was like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. My son never returned to the public school, he started at GLA immediately after his 3 day visit. I couldn’t bear to send him back, we had found the place for him and those rough days were behind us.
My son is now in 6th grade. He has friends, actual friendships. He & his friends are happy to see each other, they have formed bonds with one another. They laugh & talk & enjoy each other’s company. He was so low in public school. He is now confident, fun & light. He is learning so much. The classes are so small that he gets one on one interaction. He is so proud of his hard work. GLA has exceeded our expectations. I used to drop my son off & he was not happy to go to school. Now we have a nice car ride in, he wants to go early to see his friends before class! We are now 3 years at GLA & I feel as strongly now as I did when he first started. This place cares for our kids & is changing the world for their students.
I am so thankful to all at GLA for this amazing school.
My son has attended Great Lakes for the past two years and has a diagnosis of ADHD and a diagnosis of dysgraphia. He is currently completing his freshman year.
His struggle began in 3rd grade and got progressively worse. The change that I have seen in him during his time at Great Lakes is more than I could have imagined.
My son was placed under the 504 umbrella in public school because of the ADHD diagnosis (dysgraphia was not identified until diagnostic testing for enrollment at GLA). Although he was allowed modifications in his classes his individual needs were not being met and his grades continued to drop. He struggled academically and socially. I remember spending many Sunday evenings in tears thinking about what the next week would bring. I taught in the same building and watched as it was happening. I felt powerless.
Great Lakes Academy was an answer to my prayer. Each student has his or her own academic plan in place to help meet specific learning needs. These plans are created by the teachers before school begins. Everything is in place when our children walk in the door on the first day of school. Because of this individualized attention and support my son's grades have improved significantly which has done amazing things for his confidence.
He has finally found his place and it is exciting and emotional to watch him get to experience the fun of being a teenager. The staff at Great Lakes has been an important part of that process. My son feels safe and respected. There are no more tears on Sunday!
I have also found a wonderful support system. We as parents have a common connection through our children. Although our specific stories and experiences may be a little different we all know and understand the daily struggles and successes that our children face.
The school atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed but also structured and calming. I can't think of a better place for my son to be during this stage in his school career.
I trust Great Lakes Academy and would recommend it to any parent who is looking for a safe, supportive, nurturing environment for their child with learning differences.
Our experience at GLA was also awful & my heart goes out to the 1/15/16 reviewer. Our daughter (high-functioning autism) was an honor student for 8 yrs at GLA & was repeatedly praised as bright, polite, honest, hard-working & kind-hearted. Grades 1-5 were great, but then things changed.
In middle school, she was increasingly bullied, but admin (the ED & current/prior principals) protected the bully (whose parents were mega-donors). For example, when we reported bullying involving an intentional face-slap (witnessed by others), the principal suggested this was “just rough-housing” & that our child “misunderstood.” Yes, you read that right. She was hit in the face but somehow our child “misunderstood”–RIGHT.
Other bullying we reported: texts/posts with lies & sexual slurs about our child & others, physical bullying of other GLA kids (our child’s bully also slammed another kid's head onto a desk), lunchtime isolation/threats, and theft/damage of personal property. All of these were blatant violations of GLA’s supposed "bully-free zone." But like the prior reviewer stated, we also were told we should seek “a therapeutic school” because our child now "cried too much.” (Wouldn’t MOST kids cry if they/their friends were hit, ridiculed, shunned & intimidated day after day?)
We had witnesses, documentation, etc., but GLA repeatedly blamed our child or made us feel we were over-reacting. And we aren’t the only family!
When we asked to see the policy on progressive discipline for bullying, we were told this was "still in development." REALLY? A school that is supposedly for learning-differences & there still isn’t a written policy on actions that will be taken if a child is engaging in bullying behavior? Inexcusable.
The principal actually called OUR child a "bully" to her face after she reported bullying behavior. (She later admitted this was wrong & promised to apologize, but that never happened while our child was enrolled. Later I asked why. Her response? "I forgot." She ultimately did apologize, but only after I shamed her into it.)
Despite 8 yrs as a very supportive GLA family with a child repeatedly described as a "model student" by teachers, we were treated like dirt in our last year at GLA.
The bottom line: LOOK ELSEWHERE!! GLA claims to serve kids with Asperger’s/HFA, but they FAIL MISERABLY for older ASD students IMO.
For grades 1-5, I would say the teachers are Effective to Very Effective. But GLA now hires very inexperienced teachers (including 1st-year teachers with NO special education certification), and that is especially troubling in upper grades.
My son left the public school in the middle of the year with a low self esteme, being bullied by the students, and aweful failing grades. GLA has been the best school for him. GLA is a family. Everyone cares for each other, works together like a team, and encourages each other. The teachers and staff are outstanding, the classes are small, everyone knows everyone, the homework is very reasonable, it's short practice of what they have done for the day. They don't give a test until ready. My son loves school now. He feels and knows he belongs at GLA. I can leave him and know that he is safe, loved, and cared for. So far nearly a year and a half latter, he has been on the A/B honor roll.
We had such high hopes for this school based on friends who had children attend in the past. Unfortunately, our experience was far from what we expected. New principal has zero patience for children with any level of AS/ADHD behaviors...even though they advertise as a school for these kids. Our child was dismissed because he cried too loud. Crying was due to his frustration level being maxed out by an inflexible teacher and principal who threatened to take away things that were most valued. Not open to setting up a plan or strategies to teaching coping skills. Dismissed any suggestions put forth by professionals or former IEP/FIE. Staff is so disconnected. Teacher did not even reach out to child to see if okay or say goodbye. Comments in meetings are, "it's not like he has severe dyslexia like the student next to him". No respect for child as principal discussed the dismissal right in front of child and shamed him. No respect for parents who came to school hoping for a safe haven and discovered that they were setting child up for not being supported and essentially pushed into meltdowns. To top it all sent s letter with refunded tuition since they dismissed us which stated they technically did not have to refund us anything and were doing us a favor. More students have been dismissed since we were and prospective students have also been pushed into crying meltdowns due to inflexible teachers/administration who then state that child needs to go to "therapeutic" school. Parents, please do your due diligence on this school. Ask questions, see the curriculum, observe the teachers and administrators make sure there are strategies for typical as/ADHD behaviors. Most of the teachers are not SPED certified nor trained to work with AS/ADHD children. We are so sad that our experience was so awful. Fortunately for us going back to public school has been a huge success and we have our happy child back.
My son started in August 2014 in the 5th grade at GLA. My son is gifted, dyslexic and dysgraphic and we had come to the realization that it was an immense challenge to stimulate and nourish a gifted mind while accommodating for its challenges. GLA is doing both and makes it seem effortless. The classes are small and highly individualized. My son is in a class of six. The teacher has an individualized learning plan for each child which will cover the gaps if any and place him at his level in each subject. I find communication and accommodations have been a breeze. They truly do have your child s interests at heart and it is such a relief to know they re right there with you, not against you. I love the learning: it takes place in school. It s not about tests but all about teaching skills. Learning is fun and interesting there. Homework is ONLY review of work done in class. I 5th grade has about 40-45mn top which includes 20mn reading. I love that they have recess, 30mn daily and also PE daily. Also, there are no bells. It s a stress free school. When I pick him up from school, he always has had a good day. I now say, a day at GLA is always a good one!