When Marie Davis, now 13 years old, started at Wings Academy in third grade, she could barely read a sentence, according to her mother, Robin Davis. But by the end of the school year, she was able to read Green Eggs and Ham from beginning to end.
Marie and her brother, Willy Davis, 17, attend Wings Academy, an MPS charter school focusing on special education. Currently located in the basement of School Sisters of St. Francis, 1501 S. Layton Blvd., the school will move to Bay View this summer.
Willy, who has been diagnosed with multiple learning disabilities, started at A.E. Burdick, a traditional K-8 school, and transferred to Wings Academy beginning in 6th grade. “The reading, writing and math were tailored to him (at Burdick). But the social studies and sciences books were not,” said Davis.
Compared to traditional Milwaukee Public Schools, the pace is slower and more hands-on at Wings, which has a year-round calendar. Parents are kept informed on a daily basis of their children’s behavior and homework assignments. Robin Davis creates a daily spreadsheet to keep track of her son’s homework and performance at school.
“I didn’t know about Wings for a very long time. I wish I did,” Davis added. “Maybe he could be learning more.” Willy is now in the 10th grade, but academically he is only at a second- or third- grade level, his mother said.
Wings Academy was created by two special education teachers, one of whom is a parent of a child with special educational needs. The school has 163 students from first through 12th grade. About three-quarters have learning disabilities, ranging from cognitive disability to autism. Classes are small, with approximately 15 students.
“They can learn better this way,” said Nicola Ciurro, co-principal of Wings Academy. “They come to school and get the attention they need, not just academically but also socially.”
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