Philadelphia Medicine, Fall 2017 - 24

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FEATURE

AIM Academy - Helping Kids
with Learning Disabilities Achieve
By: Nancy Blair and Pat Roberts, Co-Founders of AIM

W

e met about 20 years ago, as mothers of daughters who were
diagnosed with language-based learning differences. Although
our backgrounds were quite different - one an educator and
the other a nurse anesthetist - we had much in common. We both
worked hard to put together an educational solution for our girls.

We researched everything we could on the subject. We learned that
dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin.
We then began looking for programs that would help our children learn
to read and have success in school.

Pat Roberts, Exeutive Director of AIM, with
Nancy Blair, Associate Director

We quickly realized that dyslexia was not easy for teachers to address.
Although Haskins Laboratory at Yale University had conducted speech
and language research for decades, to enhance the understanding of
reading disabilities and reveal ways to remediate them, that research
was not readily accessible to teachers and was sadly not making its way
into the classroom.
Our search for evidence-based methods to help our daughters
succeed in school became the genesis for AIM Academy.

Evidence-Based Curriculum

AIM Academy Campus

While a recent State of Learning Disabilities report from the National
Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) shows students with learning
and attention issues can achieve at high levels with the right support, a
lack of adequate instruction can limit opportunities and lead to poor
outcomes for children who are often misunderstood as not trying or
not being capable of more. Children with specific learning disabilities
(SLD) have average or above-average intelligence, but data from the
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) continues to
demonstrate a wide achievement gap between students with SLD and
those without disabilities.
The desire to shrink this gap and support children with learning
differences such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and attention and
executive function differences, using an evidence-based curriculum, led
us to create AIM Academy in 2006.
Providing students with the skills and evidence-based reading strategies
to overcome their challenges while at the same time identifying and
developing their strengths and talents, unleashing opportunities for
them in college and beyond, is AIM's mission.

Speakers at AIM 2017 Research Symposium
24 Philadelphia Medicine : Fall 2017

In just 12 years, AIM (formerly Academy in Manayunk) has grown
from 24 students in a former parochial school building in Philadelphia's
Manayunk neighborhood, to a student community totaling 336 students from first to 12th grades. In 2012, AIM relocated to a sprawling
campus along the Schuylkill River in Conshohocken.



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