New Look, Same Important Info!
3 December 2020
Coming Up
COVID-19 Update
Visit our COVID-19 update section of the website for all COVID-19 information.
Beyond the Bell
Special Persons Day
Special Persons Day is coming up soon! All communication has gone out directly to guests.
Middle School: December 8th, 2:15 - 3:15 pm

Lower School: December 9th, 2:00 - 3:00 pm

High School: December 10th, 2:30 - 3:30 pm
Wyayn's Words

In the midst of a global pandemic, I find myself inordinately grateful. I didn’t think that gratefulness would be the overall feeling, but it is.

Personally, my family and I have conquered online games and scheduling. Our favorites are any game on Trickster and when we have more than 4 people we often play Codenames on We tackled Among Us last week too. Scheduling time to be ‘together’ has made the isolation much easier. I’m beyond grateful for the technology that lets us not just talk but laugh and play together too.
Professionally, my heart is full of gratitude too. The staff who have chosen to work at Academy of Whole Learning are the most dedicated people I have ever known. Whether it be a behavior therapist working intensively with a client or the teaching staff measuring progress and designing new lessons or the admin working behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly, we have great staff! With your understanding, flexibility, and support, families have also been instrumental to our success.

About 18 months ago, our board of trustees, recognizing the growth of our school, clinic and operations, promoted me to executive director. At the time, I retained my title of head of school and was still fully responsible for both the school operations as well as the organizational operations. Realizing that the clinic’s growth and quality was due in large part to a single-focused divisional director, Katie Thormodsgaard, I recommended, in November 2019, we do the same for the school. While I am qualified to lead the school, I knew if I wanted to give the teaching staff and the teaching processes the support they needed and to achieve balance in my life, we needed someone with expertise whose only role was to lead the school. The board agreed. Brenda Tollas began in June of 2020. I am so glad she is here. I don’t know how we would have gotten through the trickiness of scheduling and implementing mitigation strategies, integrating in-person and distance learning during COVID-19 while simultaneously establishing professional learning teams to analyze student data so that our students’ learning continues to be at the forefront.  

Brenda and I have decided to rotate our columns in the Bridge. You will hear from her once a month about school related items, and you will hear from me about organization related items. As the executive director, I have the honor of working directly with the head of school, Brenda Tollas; the director of clinical services, Katie Thormodsgaard; the adult program manager, Mike Faeth; the director of strategic advancement, Carly Kortuem; the director of finance, Mike Onan; the director of technology and facilities manager, Georgette Benton; the therapy services and human resources manager, Karla Przybylski; and the executive assistant to the executive director and the board of trustees, Lue Ramberg. Over the next few months, I will highlight each of them. I want you to know them as I know them, so that you, too, can appreciate the gifts they and the departments they represent, bring to Academy of Whole Learning.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving,
Dr. Wyayn
Spyro & Gili Get Their New Home!
Thank you! Because of your generosity, we exceeded our goal and our bearded dragon friends, Spyro & Gili, will get a new bioactive vivarium! We are so grateful that we can purchase the equipment and materials for the new vivarium.

But now Spyro and Gili need your help funding AOWL!

Any donation to the Annual Fund helps keep AOWL up and running, and we can use your help this year more than ever. We have already raised $103,600, and if we reach our $210,000 goal by December 31, we also get to dye Brenda's hair blue and yellow!
Family Corner
Click the photos to enlarge
Group Therapy Registration Now Open
AOWL Therapy Services now offers Group Therapy! Beginning the week of January 18th, our 8-session groups provide a wide range of support for children, teens, and young adults.

This January, we offer groups that focus on social skills, virtual friendships, and living with ASD. Now covered by most major insurance carriers, please visit our group therapy page or call 952-737-6933 for detailed course descriptions and registration information. Secure your spot by registering by December 18th.
Half Day on December 18th!
Student Celebration will be on Friday, December 18th. Look for updates from teachers as the date approaches! We will have a half day of school, with lunch at 11:30 and dismissal at 12:00.
Virtual Book Fair
Our Virtual Book Fair is now live! Free shipping with $25 in book purchases!

Our teachers have created a Book Fair wish list. If you would like to purchase a book from the list, please see this instructional video.
Spirit Wear Discount
Our spirit wear store is offering a 20% discount now through the end of the year!
2020-21 Board-Parent Liaison

Contact Ross for questions or concerns regarding school processes.
PTO Co-chairs

Contact Kerry or Audra for questions or concerns regarding the PTO.
View from the Nest
Staff Highlights!
Melissa Trunk
Behavior Therapist

Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and music from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Prior to coming to Academy of Whole Learning, Melissa worked with teens experiencing homelessness and other social disparities.
Maureen Maher
Donor Relations Manager

Maureen holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She also holds additional graduate-level certifications from the University of St. Thomas. Having worked at organizations like M Health Fairview, TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, and the American Cancer Society, Maureen brings over 14 years of experience in donor relations to AOWL’s Advancement Department.
Nancy Shelledy
Behavior Therapist

Nancy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Arts from the University of Minnesota, Morris. Prior to working at Academy of Whole Learning, Nancy worked as a Program Coordinator supporting adults with disabilities and mental health diagnoses. In that role, she helped individuals learn independent living skills in the home and community.