A brick-and-mortar school in Calgary that's been a leader in meeting the unique needs of students with learning disabilities for years is branching out into the virtual world and starting Alberta's first, and only, virtual school for students with learning disabilities this fall.  

Rundle Studio will start in September for students in grades 7 and 8 with a diagnosed learning disability or ADHD (Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder) and will be open to students across Alberta, including Airdrie.

Rundle Studio is built upon the foundation of successful principles of Rundle Academy.  Both are part of the Rundle College Society, a top Fraser Institute-ranked school.  Rundle Academy has been meeting the needs of students with learning disabilities for several years.  

John Wolf, the principal of Rundle Studio says online school can provide unique benefits for students with learning disabilities.

"Too often students are put in situations and without the proper accommodations for their learning needs, they're not achieving success, so that's the first and foremost benefit from Rundle Studio."

Other benefits include:

  • Universal Design for Learning - providing accommodations for a wide range of learning needs
  • Flexibility - attend classes anywhere in Alberta as long as there’s access to computer and wifi
  • Accessibility - online course materials accessible 24 hours a day
  • Self-paced learning - no need to sit for long periods, lessons can be paused when needed, students can progress faster
  • Interaction - online environment can be less intimidating, increasing student participation
  • Safe, caring, and personalized learning environment

Wolf says that both Rundle Academy and Rundle Studio are designated for special education programs from Alberta Education.

"Students must have a diagnosed learning disability in reading, writing, written expression or mathematics are the main areas where they have unique learning ways.  We also accommodate students who have ADHD.  Those students would also benefit from this program."

Wolf says the virtual school will start this fall serving grade 7 and 8 students and grow from there.  

"We wanted to make sure that we are starting at an age where students are able to be a little more self-sufficient online.  We are able to accommodate 28 students maximum for this year.  Next year we will add grade 9 and then we'll be able to expand beyond that, Every year we'll add a new grade."

Four teachers will work with students at the online school.  

Wolf explains that the school has a mission which is to provide an excellent education for students with learning disabilities in order that they might achieve greater success.

"There's roughly 15 percent of the population has a diagnosed learning disability but we also know that only about 10 percent of that 15 percent goes on to post-secondary education of their choice. We know we can do better and we've seen better results at our other schools and we know that with the proper amount of accommodations, and teacher support, we know we can do better and our aim is to have this accessible to as many students as possible so that they can have a choice."

Registration is beginning to fill up for the coming school year.  Go to rundle.ab.ca/studio where you'll find information on the school as well as a link to the application process.   

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