Parents struggling to find educational support for children with autism, ADHD and more may have a new option this fall in the Edison School.
The private school already has a location in Sumner County, and its small class size means teachers have more time for one-on-one attention. Dozens of local parents have joined an effort to see the program offered in Wilson County as well.
“We’ve been exploring the option to expand into Wilson County since summer of last year,” headmaster Jonathan Wilson said. “Parents had contacted me at our summer location, and we did a lot of research. We’re working with a church out there to get approval to lease space, although we can’t identify which one yet.”
Wilson said community engagement at meetings about the school has been strong, and several families have already turned in enrollment forms. The program would initially serve students from pre-K to ninth grade, and expand through 12th grade by 2023.
“The way we approach our program is unique to each child,” he said. “We figure out what kind of learner they are, so if they’re an auditory learner we’ll tailor the lessons to that and if they’re a kinetic learner we’ll incorporate more movement.”
Teachers at the Edison School work with classrooms up to seven students, which means they have more time to see how they work best. Children also learn social and emotional skills alongside usual school subjects.
“I really like that they invite outside therapists to work with the kids,” Rebecca Mogey, a former assistant teacher at the Sumner County location, said. “I think it would be amazing for the county. They can meet every child at their specific level, whether they’re ahead of the curve on a subject or struggling with it.”
Mogey plans to enroll her 6-year-old-daughter, who has ADHD and high-functioning autism, at the Wilson County location.
“We feel like public schools are overcrowded for her,” she said. “She’s very smart and gifted in certain things, but in others she may need help. It’s great that they can meet the child right where they’re at and help with their sensory needs. My daughter is a sensory learner, so she likes pushing on a pillow, and a swing really calms her.”
The Edison School has a sensory room to help students who are feeling overwhelmed, and the children can even sit on beanbag chairs and sensory balls in the classroom.
“I’m a big proponent of physical education, so we move around a lot and it’s not set up like a typical classroom,” Wilson said. “There’s physical education three times a day, music, art and then we have recess twice a day.”
For some of the parents involved, that means a more comprehensive experience than homeschooling can offer with the same benefits.
“We have a daughter and a son we were going to enroll in the Sumner County location last year, and now we’re looking to enroll in Wilson County,” Teresa Shipman said. “It’s great to see this moving forward, because there’s really nothing else out there at the moment that will give my children the kind of one-on-one attention they need besides homeschooling.”
Shipman said her son’s ADHD and autism make it difficult to work in a regular classroom setting, and her daughter is on the lower-functioning end of the autism spectrum.
“Her IQ is right at the 70 range,” she said. “She’s in a Comprehensive Development Class right now and she’s not learning anything, it’s basically just babysitting. I want her to be able to learn and have a chance to succeed.”
Although the Edison School is designed to help students with conditions like autism and dyslexia, enrolling does not require a diagnosis.
“Some kids come to us because they’re bullied in school or have trouble dealing with large crowds,” Wilson said. “Personally, my wife and I have walked this path. We have a son about to turn 18 who’s deaf, blind and has autism, and although he’s too old to enroll with us I’m trying to create a school I know he would thrive in.”