By BRIAN WALKER
POST FALLS — A private middle school is the next planned step for the former Crossroads dance studio on Highway 41.
Alyssa Pukkila purchased the property and is planning to open Wired 2 Learn Academy this fall with as many as 36 students.
"The school will offer a unique environment focused on collaboration and communication, in which teachers will act as learning coaches for students' growth in critical-thinking and problem-solving skills," Pukkila said.
She said learning will be project-based rather than in a traditional classroom setting.
Students will not be separated by grade.
"What we're interested in is that if you're in the eighth grade you can cover the eighth-grade state standards within your projects," Pukkila said. "We still want to be accountable to the state standards."
Pukkila, who has a master's degree in psychology, said she has spent more than 10 years studying neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology to understand how the brain learns best. She said the sense of belonging and having joy are critical to improved intelligence.
"Our goal will be to create a loving environment that will allow every student to belong, to be the best he or she can be and to be the most creative that he or she can be," she said.
Pukkila said the school will be open to students who have a wide range of learning abilities.
"I want the school to reflect our community," she said. "We don't want to be an elitist school. We will celebrate and honor neuro-diversity. We honor different ways of thinking."
Pukkila said she envisions the school having three learning coaches to start. She added the tuition to attend the school has not been determined, but a foundation will be established to assist those in need with scholarships.
The school will be similar to the Anne Frank Inspire Academy in San Antonio, Texas.
"When you walk into the Anne Frank Academy, the first thing you notice is there are no traditional classrooms," Pukkila said. "What you notice is kids working all over the place."
For more information, visit www.wired2learnacademy.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.