The YMCA Academy is an alternative high school, designed to support the academic and socio-emotional needs of students with learning disabilities and learning style differences.

The majority of students who attend the YMCA Academy have been diagnosed with a learning disability (70% in 2017-2018), and all have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) in place.

The Academy is committed to providing students identified as exceptional through the Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) with all of their accommodations. Our Special Education Supervisor implements a student’s current IEP immediately upon receipt. Each year, amendments are made to the student’s IEP based on feedback from students, staff, parents/guardians, and professionals and medical resources (doctors, Psychological Education Reports, etc.).

Supports available at the YMCA Academy include a wide array of assistive technologies, specialized classes, and personalized programs.

Assistive Technology Supports

Hardware:

  • Laptop computers (1 laptop for every student)
  • Tablets for mobile classroom use
  • Smartboards
  • Headset microphones
  • Cameras with video options for lesson recordings

Software:

  • Google Classroom + G Suite for Education (including Google Speech-to-text)
  • TextHelp Read & Write for Chrome
  • Kurzweil 3000 + Firefly by Kurzweil
  • Microsoft Office Suite Speech-to-text
In-School and After-School Support

Differentiated lessons:

Teachers alter their teaching style based on a student’s preferred learning style. This allows students to experience lesson delivery through a variety of lenses. Assessment and evaluation is equally student-centred.

Remediation courses (if required):

Remediation is offered as a non-credit class for students requiring remediation in two areas: language and mathematics. In this class, a language and mathematics remediation specialist on staff works with students who have demonstrated difficulties with language, mathematics, or both on a daily basis to help the student achieve grade level literacy and numeracy.

Resource courses (if required):

Our non-credit Resource class enables the Academy to meet students’ individualized needs by supporting daily coursework with a focus on skill building. This might include, but is not limited to:

  • extra time for projects, tests and quizzes;
  • additional one-to-one attention/instruction;
  • access to and instruction in the use of computers and software programs (see "Assistive Technology" for details);
  • access to a scribe; and
  • organizational support.

Recommendations for this course may be made by students, staff, or parents/guardians. Content is determined on an individual basis.

Individualized attention from teachers:

Staff is committed to meeting students’ needs. This is possible with small teacher-student ratios. Teachers are available for individualized assistance during and outside of class time.

Homework Club:

The YMCA Academy hosts a regular after-school Homework Club, supported by Academy staff and volunteers. Students have the opportunity to receive one-on-one assistance. Staff is also available for individual support upon request.

Performing at a much higher level

Our son was first diagnosed with ADHD and an LD in primary school. We were told he was very bright, but would require some supports to help him succeed at school. With support he fared reasonably well until high school. Even with an IEP, and additional support at home and school, his marks began to drop immediately. By his third year he was failing and not attending classes. We enrolled our son in the Academy the following year. The change we saw was almost immediate. Our son wants to attend classes at the Academy and is performing at a much higher level than his previous school. We also noticed a profound change in his mood. Since enrolling at the Academy his happiness and self-confidence have improved greatly. I would highly recommend the Academy to any parent whose child needs a truly supportive learning environment.

A YMCA Academy parent