YMCA Academy students using laptopThe 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 2015-2016), 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)
  • Smartboards
  • Cameras with video options for lesson recordings

Software:

  • Kurzweil 3000
  • Firefly by Kurzweil
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Speech-to-text using Microsoft Word
  • SMART Technologies (Smart Notebook)
  • SMART Ideas
  • Microsoft products
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.

Made all the difference

Our son struggled with school due to an unidentified learning disability and undiagnosed anxiety disorder. Achievement was elusive despite IEPs, accommodations, changing programs, changing schools, tutoring, summer school, and guidance counselling. Overwhelmed and unable to keep up, he developed low self-esteem and, ultimately, counterproductive coping strategies.
Once his learning style differences were identified, we were referred to The YMCA Academy. Its small classes, interesting courses, individual attention, technological support, caring environment, emphasis on respect and mindfulness, modern attractive facility, and, most of all, terrific leadership, teachers, and staff, made all the difference! They fostered his individuality, inspired his creativity, showed him how to be productive academically, and just plain let him shine. He is looking forward to exploring everything that post-secondary education has to offer and towards an inspiring and fulfilling career.

Parent of a YMCA Academy graduate