School for dyslexic children to open in Palo Alto

Athena Academy to serve grades two through five this fall, expanding in 2013-14

Leaders of new school for children with dyslexia will hold an information session for prospective families Wednesday, July 18.

Athena Academy, on Antonio Road in Palo Alto, plans to serve grades two through five this fall and expand into a middle school in 2013-14.

Founder and Head of School Carla Rayacich said teachers will employ a variety of strategies to instruct children with language-based learning disabilities, including Slingerland, Orton-Gillingham, Lindamood Bell, Davis Learning Strategies, Woodin Math and Montessori.

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that causes difficulty in reading, spelling, writing and often other kinds of learning that involve symbols.

Rayacich, with a Stanford MBA and a background as a mortgage broker, began searching for the best teaching tools after her own twins struggled to learn in both a traditional setting and in a school geared for dyslexics.

She said about 15 percent of all students have dyslexia, which is sometimes accompanied by "giftedness in the areas of picture thinking, 3D manipulation of images and creative thinking."

Athena Academy posts tuition at $29,500 per year, which includes an extracurricular program that extends the day to 4:15. Tuition assistance is available. Before and after school care is an added cost.

The information session will be Wednesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the school, 525 San Antonio Road, Palo Alto.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:02 am

How will this be different than Charles Armstrong school?

Like this comment
Posted by Snark Repellent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 17, 2012 at 10:27 am

This school will be different than Charles Armstrong School because to start, it will be at a different location (Palo Alto rather than Belmont) and have different teachers. There are a few more differences, but I'll let you do your own legwork from this point; you know, "teach a man to fish" and all

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:00 am

Snark repellent - funny, I don't think I need to learn to fish to get info about a school. I realize the location is different - duh - I was wondering what the differences might be in the actual teaching and instruction methods. And I realize that a huge portion of the Charles Armstrong students are from Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:18 am

Driving to Armstrong from Palo Alto is pretty challenging.
I think it is great that there will a resource like this locally.

Like this comment
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 17, 2012 at 12:20 pm

So this is going in to the Peninsula Day Care site for a year or two? Then where will they go? School space in Palo Alto is already so tight. It's also almost across the street from the Jewish Day School.

Like this comment
Posted by Bev
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

As a teacher, I'm excited to see this. It's heartbreaking to try to meet the needs of all learners in the same classroom, so it will be great to have this resource available to families who can afford it.

Like this comment
Posted by Unfortunately
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

I am glad that there will be a school like this one in our neighborhood.Unfortunately, the tuition is highly expensive, so poor people cannot attend it. I know the article says that they will have tuition assistance, but I know that they cannot afford to assist everyone who needs it.

Like this comment
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 18, 2012 at 1:48 pm

How I wish this school had been open twenty years ago. Even though tuition must be expensive, the more schools like this there are raises the awareness of the challenges some children face. And there are different ways children learn.

About 12 years ago a group of Palo Alto Unified School District parents pushed for a 6th grade class for students who did not fit in in the regular special education class and needed a different kind of teaching and structure than is possible for them in mainstream classes. There were enough students to make up a sixth grade class at Jordan, and these parents made it happen. With this support those students transition successfully to the mainstream classes instead of floundering and sinking.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2012 at 3:17 pm

JM - any idea what happened to this 6th grade class at Jordan? It doesn't exist anymore, although the kids with IEP's are grouped into one or two core classes so the resource teachers can work with them more easily. There used to be a Direct Instruction 6th grade class which was discontinued because of lack of interest (even when they had it, the students asked not to be taught in the DI method, instead they wanted the "normal" Jordan teaching style).

PAUSD probably has enough dyslexic students to populate a school by itself.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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