Students with autism, emotional and learning disabilities will have a new place to learn this fall when a nationally-accredited school, specifically established for their needs, moves to a larger, more expansive location in the East Valley. Banner Children’s Academy of Education & Development, a newly named school operated by Banner Behavioral Health in Scottsdale, opens for classes on Aug. 6 in Tempe.
Formerly known as the Howard S. Gray School, the Banner Children’s Academy is moving to a 15,000-square-foot location, which more than quadruples its size from its Scottsdale campus. The academy is accredited by the North Central Association and approved by the Arizona Department of Education. It focuses on teaching and nurturing emotionally fragile students, including those with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. The Banner Children’s Academy is for students in fourth through 12th grades.
One of the cornerstones of the school’s mission is to help their students prepare for life after high school. With the school’s move, there are renewed focus areas to help students develop practical work skills following graduation. Specific educational program focus areas include videography, culinary arts, agriculture, exotic animal care and computer skills.
“Our programs emphasize practical living and work skills which are critical for preparing students for life beyond high school,” said Dave Bachmann, an instructor at Banner Children’s Academy, who has taught at the school for more than 30 years. “That’s where the school and its new, expanded offerings will have huge impacts on the community and the kids who attend the school. Most of the students who graduate from our school take the skills they have acquired here and expand upon them in vocational and college settings.”
With two instructors per classroom, the academy’s student-teacher ratio is six-to-one. Classes focus on individualized learning plans tailored to meet the specific needs of the student. All instructors at Banner Children’s Academy are certified in both special education and in specific subject areas. Enrollment scholarships are available through the Arizona Empowerment Scholarship and Arizona Scholarship funds.
The new campus, located at 1410 West 10th Place in Tempe (south of University and Priest drives), includes a teaching kitchen, a science lab, an auditorium, an apartment unit to help teach independent living skills, an animal habitat learning center and a self-sustaining organic garden.