KALISPELL - There is a new school for neurodivergent kids in Kalispell.
“So, kids that just process differently than what's considered typical. So we have kids who are autistic, ADHD, dyslexic, nonverbal processing disorder, lots of different things. And the hope is to provide a safe place where they can learn kind of based on their interests,” said Nurtured Growth Learning Center director and founder April Schottelkorb.
The school — which is located in Kalispell — is the first of its kind in the Flathead Valley. Nurtured Growth is centered around educating youth and creating an environment for children with learning differences, sensory needs and behavioral challenges.
“Just over the years II've thought we need something different, perhaps, for our neurodivergent kids because if they have a lot of sensory things going on in schools it can be pretty overwhelming. And a lot of them are pretty brilliant and have a lot of interesting ideas. But the traditional school environment doesn't always work for them,” said Schottelkorb.
It's a small nonprofit right now with only four students, but this new Flathead school isn't just looking to expand, but offer an alternative education for kids who struggle to learn in a traditional classroom.
Some of the students, such as Amelia Gann, don’t learn and process things in typical ways making mainstream schools and curriculums very uninviting and challenging.
“So when I came here, it wasn't like that. I was able to kind of like choose what I did and stuff like that. So it was a lot easier for me to like understand things. And it was a lot easier for me to learn because I wasn't learning with something I wasn't able to understand,” said Gann.
Nurtured Growth offers learning activities, computers and a specialized gym for exercise and to get the kids extra energy out.
“Because in public school, my child had a lot of energy. He's ADHD, and so there are a lot of parameters that were not good for him. He wasn't comfortable. Here, he's comfortable," explained Nurtured Growth Learning Center Board Member and parent Cari Bowers. "He's able to get up and play and move energy around when he needs to get rid of energy and I believe that that's going to help him reach his full potential and learning when he's comfortable in his environment."
Nurtured Growth is hoping to hire a full-time teacher and provide scholarships for next year and they will be holding a fundraiser on March 15 to help reach this goal. To learn more about the program or ways you can help, visit https://www.nurturedgrowthlearningcenter.com/ or call the school at 406 - 291-1243.