If traditional classrooms and standard teaching methods have left parents frustrated with their child’s educational experience, the owners of Lexis Preparatory School want them to know that there is another option.
“We recognize that not every child learns the same way, and we’re tailoring our approach to their different learning styles, creating an environment in which we really are wanting each child to achieve success,” said Anita Werner, a speech-language pathologist who co-owns the private K-8 school with Dr. Raun Melmed, a developmental pediatrician.
Lexis, which currently has nearly 50 students, is designed for children who have ADHD, anxiety, dyslexia and other learning challenges.
Although Melmed and Werner were previously involved with the school, this is the first year they are the sole owners.
“This is kind of like a dream come true to put together a school that focuses on really understanding that every child is so different and the school gives us the opportunity to use a different approach with them,” Werner said.
“These are kids who have the potential to succeed but nonetheless have learning differences or behaviorial differences, which prevents them from being able to do that in a typical scenario,” Melmed said.
The school has a college preparatory curriculum and offers individualized instruction, low teacher-to-pupil ratio, a Customized Learning Plan (CLP) for each student, and multisensory learning experiences. There is also a focus on executive function and social skills training, Werner said. Occupational therapy and speech therapy is available on campus, and there is a full-time counselor on staff.
Lynn Balter’s son Jack, who is diagnosed with ADHD and autism, attended a public school through fourth grade and was having problems with the large class size and the staff not having the ability to focus on his special needs. Since moving him to Lexis two years ago, “our life has taken a whole new direction,” Balter said. “Our son has so much less anxiety. He’s in a smaller classroom with attention to exactly what his needs are.”
Lexis opened in 2009 and for the past two years, operated on the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus in Scottsdale, where Pardes Jewish Day School moved over the summer. In July, Lexis moved to its new home at 11130 E. Cholla St., in a facility owned by the Scottsdale Unified School District; the building once housed Cheyenne Elementary School.
The new campus, which represents an increase in space from 15,000 square feet to 27,000 square feet, offers much room for growth, said Bonnie Dougherty, head of school. The facility includes a sports room, an activity room with games such as air hockey, an art room, a library, a cafeteria and access to a sports field.
Tuition is $19,200 per year; scholarships and grants are available.
One aspect the new owners envision for the school’s expansion is to increase its programming for the community, using a “village” concept. These programs include the Lexis Social Village, the Lexis Tutoring Cafe and The Brain Fitness Center.
The Lexis Social Village will offer a variety of after-school activities open to Lexis students and students attending other schools. Current offerings are chess and cup stacking; a yo-yo club and a Minecraft program are in the works.
The Lexis Tutoring Café, decorated as a 1950s cafe, is “specifically designed to make tutoring a ‘cool’ and positive experience,” according to a release. Lexis aims to embed executive function skills in the context of its tutoring so that each child learns to manage time and attention, switch focus, plan and organize, remember details and integrate past experience with present action. The goal is to break down learning into small “doable” pieces so children can learn with a sense of success, Werner said.
The Brain Fitness Center uses computer-based personalized training programs to train memory, attention, reading and language skills.
The school also plans to offer parenting education programs, Dougherty said, including roundtable discussions on topics such as anxiety and ADHD, and lunch and learn sessions. There’s also a summer camp.
The school will hold an open house for educators and professionals in the educational field 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22. Parents can also call 480-391-3901 to schedule a tour.
Melmed is the director of the Melmed Center and a co-founder and medical director of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC). He is also an adviser for Chabad of Arizona’s Friendship Circle and for the Council for Jews with Special Needs. Werner is the founder of Pediatric Speech and Language Specialists in Scottsdale and Chandler.
Children are all different from one another, Melmed said. “Individualized approaches to their education is key and celebrating the differences that they might have is essential.”