Applewood Academy Leaves No Child Behind: Michelle’s Story

The staff at Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning (AAPL) believes that no child should be left behind. It’s a special place where each and every child, regardless of individual challenges, can find the support he or she needs to thrive and succeed.

Nobody knows this better than Susan Hall. Her daughter, Michelle, is autistic and extremely sensitive to environmental stimulation. She speaks only through her iPad using Locabulary, a communication app.

“We are very pleased with the efforts the school has made to help Michelle not only maintain attendance, but to build relationships with those she attends school with,” says Hall.   “Michelle likes being included in the school as a student and enjoys the daily schedule of being involved there.”

Seventeen-year-old Michelle has attended AAPL since 2010. She benefits from the school’s high quality, compassionate and therapeutic educational programming. Caring educators are working to help Michelle out of a catatonic state triggered by a favoured staff member leaving the school at the end of the last school year.

“Michelle has a tremendous amount of potential,” says Principal Cara Pinchuk. “With the persistence of staff in the school and the support of her mother, it is our hope to help her achieve it.”

The school covers all costs related to Michelle’s attendance, and the school community is currently busy fundraising to support her educational endeavours. Michelle requires one-to-one support and specialized individual programming. With her sensitivity to stimuli, she is only able to attend school for one hour per day. During that time, she is exposed to academics and creative art activities.

“The school was able to prepare her last year for her first ever juried art show,” says Hall. “Michelle has never taken a formal art class at the high school level and yet, with the help of the school, was able to prepare not one but two entries to the show.”

Michelle draws exclusively in a computer painting program using the mouse as her artist’s tool. “Both of her art pieces were accepted even though it is more typical for a newcomer to not have anything accepted on the first try,” says her proud mother. “It has been a highlight of our time at Applewood Academy.”

About Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning

Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning provides alternative school solutions for children from the ages of 6 to 21 with emotional or behavioural needs. Skilled staff members work to create positive attitudes about education in children who might normally wish to avoid school because of previous negative experiences. Read more about our mission.

*names changed to protect privacy