Groves Academy's Post-secondary Program Builds Bridge to Adulthood for College Freshmen With Learning Disabilities

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One-on-one support offered today guides students in Minnesota & beyond to successful future.

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We knew she couldn’t go through the program without the extra support and tools.

As many as one in four first-year college students in Minnesota don’t make it back for their sophomore year, national studies show.* The new pace and academics not only overwhelms these freshmen but destroys budding futures, especially for a student with a learning disability or attention disorder say leaders of Groves Academy in St. Louis Park. They should know--Groves is a unique Minnesota 1-12 school designed for students with learning and attention disorders. Groves announced today it's working to expand its outreach of the Groves Post-Secondary Program (GPS), which launched in 2009. The program was created to help high school graduates and young adults, who may need a bridge to success.

“We’re not sure what the numbers are, how many college students are out there with a learning disability or attention disorder. But we do know our own graduates and many others can use a helping hand to take the next big step to a college education,” said John Alexander, Head of School for Groves Academy. “And then we help them navigate it from there.” Alexander is a national expert and Minnesota leader in reading reform with a Master of Education from Harvard University specializing in reading and language disabilities. He says GPS’s staff members, who specialize in learning disabilities, use a holistic approach to provide year-round support for young adults, mostly between the ages of 18 to 25. The program is tailored to individual needs, providing everything from study and time management skills to life planning--helping students plot a successful course to school, a career and adulthood.

In the past four years, the Groves Post-Secondary Program has served seventy students. The program helped nearly fifty of those move successfully through two-year college programs at institutions such as Normandale Community College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College and Dunwoody College of Technology; then continue their college education at Cornell University, Rhode Island University, Vermont University, Hamline University, Metro State University, Southwest Minnesota State University and the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and Stout. Eighteen students also gained pre-work training through the program’s own student-run business called GPS Quality Products, designed to give students valuable job skills and a true understanding of what it takes to be successful at work.

College can be scary
“After high school, it’s a real scary feeling,” said Mary Strot, a Twin Cities mom who admits she worried about her daughter Molly’s future. When Molly graduated from a special education program at a local high school, she decided she wanted to become a Certified Nursing Assistant, a 10-week long program at a community college. “We knew she couldn’t go through the program without the extra support and tools,” said Mary. She says the Groves staff worked with Molly every day after school to help her study the material, tackle the tests and manage her study time. “A career as a nursing assistant seems like it’s just her calling, seems like a perfect fit for her,” said Mary about her now 22-year-old daughter. “The Groves Post-Secondary Program was just a great experience and now we’ve got a CNA in the family.”

“The staff’s in close contact with the kids. They’re more than tutors, they’re mentors,” said Karen, another Twin Cities mom whose son, Patrick, worked with GPS’s staff for four years after high school. Patrick has struggled with a life-long learning disability and is ADHD. Patrick “graduated” from the GPS program, and is finishing his college coursework to become a graphics and web designer. “The study habits he learned have stuck with him. They did a good job,” she said.

Groves Academy also offers an extensive curriculum for college-bound and college students throughout the year through workshops, covering everything from preparing for the SAT or ACT tests to housing options for independent living. A free workshop, “Navigating College Student Support Services,” will be held on Thursday, January 16th from 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at Groves Academy for seniors planning to attend college in Fall 2014. For more information and to register online, click here.

*Retention rates for first-time college freshmen returning their second year in Minnesota were 77.8% in 2010, according to the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS).

About Groves Academy
Groves Academy is a national leader and pioneer in educating students with learning disabilities and attention disorders, and is the only school of its kind in Minnesota. This premier 1-12 school in St. Louis Park was founded in 1972 and currently enrolls 240 students from Minnesota and across the U.S. Through research-based curriculum and personalized instruction, Groves Academy helps students with learning and attention disorders succeed in the classroom.

The school also functions as a key resource center in the Midwest, providing literacy training for teachers in more than 50 school districts and holding dozens of workshops annually for the public, attracting 5,000 attendees. Groves Academy provides diagnostic assessments for students from preschool-age to college, tutoring for 1-12 students, a summer school program for students from other districts and specialized college counseling for high school students and adults with learning and attention disorders.

John Alexander has been head of School at Groves Academy since 2005, and has expanded the school’s programs and community outreach to increase awareness of reading and learning disabilities. He was the 2009 recipient of the Star Literacy Award from the National Association for Reading First.

Alexander also writes a weekly literacy blog, loaded with information about the latest research.

For more information about the innovative work at Groves Academy, visit To schedule interviews, contact media liaison Robb Leer 612.701.0608.


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