Haugland Learning opens new school in Athens County
The Athens Messenger - 1/8/2018
Note: This story appears in the Saturday, Jan. 6 newspaper on Page A1.
Haugland Learning Center, which offers a series of Ohio classroom-based charter schools, is set to open a new location in Albany.
The location will be at Center Albany, the former school building which now houses various entities at 5196 Washington Road.
Haugland is for students with Asperger's syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities. The first day of classes will be Jan. 17, with an open house set for Jan. 11 from 5-7 p.m. for interested families.
Melanie Yoder, director of the new branch, said the school uses applied behavioral analysis (ABA) to help students reach their full potential. The technique uses positive reinforcement to change behavior and help the student learn, making learning "more automatic and less abstract," according to Yoder.
"Every moment is a teachable moment," Yoder said. "We try to use positive reinforcement to change behavior, and don't lower expectations."
The school has been in the works for the past year and a half, and has space for fifteen students, with five teachers ready for the first day of school. Yoder said that the plan is for the school to grow, "but grow with integrity," saying that she does not want a higher student to teacher ratio or to outgrow the area's need.
Haugland Learning Center has three other locations: Columbus/Dublin, Lancaster and Sandusky. The oldest location opened in 2004, and the company has over 300 students total. Athens has previously been served by Haugland through home-based services, which Yoder says a few students have utilized. Some of these students will transition to the classroom later this month.
Classes are grouped based on ability with age as a consideration, Yoder said, and offers alternative learning to students in all grades from preschool through 12th.
"Our main emphasis is that choice component, and our teachers go through some pretty extensive training." Yoder said, explaining that each teacher goes through a two-week training period and is also expected to continue their education. "We give students an opportunity to grow in autonomy."
Yoder said all students at the Albany location are covered by scholarships, of which there are two: the Autism Scholarship, which is just for students with autism, and the Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship, which students with other disabilities may qualify for. Both scholarships cover the entire cost of tuition. Another option is to open enroll into the charter school, after a district seeks Haugland out. The district would then transfer any funds the students earn for the district to Haugland, paying for the majority of tuition, if not all of it.
"Autism isn't urbanized," Yoder said. "We are another choice."