For parents whose child is struggling with learning, it can be difficult to find the right help. Learning Disabilities are invisible disabilities that can affect academic skills, social skills, self-confidence and self-esteem. With the right identification and supports, these children have unlimited potential. Without the right supports, the outcomes can be grim – school disengagement and dropout, involvement in crime, poverty, addiction and homelessness are just some of the potentially negative outcomes.
A School and So Much More! Foothills Academy Society meets a unique need in Calgary for children diagnosed with Learning Disabilities. The Society’s mandate has two parts: to serve children and youth with Learning Disabilities in a School Program and to serve the greater community through Community Services. We directly serve over 5,000 people each year.
Foothills Academy School is a non-profit private school for students with diagnosed Learning Disabilities in grades 3 – 12. The school offers a safe haven to children who have been frustrated by traditional schooling, disheartened by a lack of support for their unique learning style and perhaps been bullied because they just don’t fit in.
Estelle Siebens Community Services assists children, youth and adults who are experiencing difficulties in their school, work and/or home environments as a result of Learning Disabilities or ADHD and the social/emotional challenges that frequently accompany these conditions. Community Services provides programs and services to residents of Calgary and beyond on a year-round basis. We offer psycho-educational testing, individual and group counselling, intensive reading/writing/ mathematics individualized instruction programs, social-skills based summer camps (Camp Amicus) and year-round recreation (Amicus Recreation), parent education and professional development for educators.
It has always been part of Foothills’ philosophy to never turn someone away due to financial circumstances. As a result, close to $1 million must be raised each year to support the bursary program at Foothills. Donations are always welcome to help support the needs of individuals and families affected by Learning Disabilities and ADHD.
“(Foothills Academy) is perceived by the learning disabilities community across North America to be an excellent role model for private education for children who need special help. The success of the school’s graduates and their loyalty to the school over the years speaks volumes. I think everyone in Calgary knows that a child is lucky to be admitted to this school.” – Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, University of Calgary
ANNUAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS 2020-21
Foothills Academy continues to have overwhelming demand from the Calgary area community for placements in our school program. Therefore, we are striving to support the LD/ADHD community in other ways through Community Services, where the demand is similarly high across all four departments: psychological services; individual one-to-one remedial instruction; Camp Amicus and recreational programming; as well as our numerous educational opportunities for parents and professionals across Canada.
“ I truly believe Foothills Academy has changed our lives for the better. I almost feel I cannot put into words exactly how grateful we are that Foothills Academy exists. My son never felt like he belonged in a school setting before Foothills Academy. Right from the first day the teachers and staff made him feel like he was understood and he has since felt very welcomed and comfortable. He also had trouble making friends before Foothills but now has the best group of friends he’s ever had. I will never forget our first parent/teacher interview at Foothills Academy. I was in shock as I heard the teachers say encouraging words that my husband and I have been wishing other school teachers had said (at least once) in the past 7 years of my son’s schooling. Finally, we have found a haven where people understood our son! We now have a happy 18-year-old who will graduate high school this year and go on to post-secondary education with confidence and the tools for success.” Foothills Academy School Parent
“My son has benefited from Camp Amicus because this was the start of our ADHD/LD journey and we found supportive, professional and caring people. As a mother of 2, for the first time didn’t feel alone. I felt supported and met other people going through the same sojourn. This camp started to change our life for the better and the 3:1 ratio is amazing. The bursaries make this all possible.” Camp Amicus Program Parent
“My son went into the Read/Write program feeling frustrated with reading and therefore struggled with learning. His confidence was deflated and he was starting to give up on himself. We did the 75 hour Intensive Read/Write program in August. He never once complained about waking up every morning and going. Now he has a hard time putting a book down. He’s read over 2 novels in the past month!!! We are so proud of him and very grateful for his time with his instructor. Thank you!” Read/Write Program Parent
1. Foothills Academy School is a Designated Special Education private school serving over 296 students with Learning Disabilities in grades 3 – 12 following the Alberta Education curriculum. Classes typically have no more than 14 students with a teacher and a part-time assistant. We focus on a wide range of strategies to help students find success ensuring students reach their full potential. The goal for our students is to go on to successful and meaningful post-secondary education. We build on students’ strengths to enable them to become the great individuals whom they are capable of being.
The School Program focuses on the well-rounded child ensuring academics are of a high standard as well as prioritizing the social and emotional development of our students. The high school completion rate and zero dropout rate are testimony to the safe and caring environment both socially and academically that is fostered by supportive staff at Foothills Academy. It is the goal of Foothills Academy that any qualified child should be able to attend the school program regardless of a family’s financial circumstances. Therefore, while Foothills Academy is a private school, it is also a charitable society that raises money every year to support its bursary fund. In order to support this goal, all families of children attending Foothills Academy are required to participate in and support the fundraising efforts of the society.
2. Estelle Siebens Community Services offers year-round programs and services to support people affected by Learning Disabilities and ADHD. In 2019/20, more than 1,400 children & youth accessed our direct programs and services. We also provided parent education to over 350 parents increasing their knowledge of how Learning Disabilities and ADHD affect their children. More than 2,700 educators (reaching over 25,000 students) increased their knowledge and skills for working with the diverse learners in their classroom by participating in one of our Professional Development workshops or online courses.
Foothills Academy Society’s philosophy is that no individual with Learning Disabilities should be left behind irrespective of their family’s financial circumstances. Over $1 million is needed each year to support our Bursary Fund. School parents, students and staff commit each year to fundraise for the Bursary Fund but we also need the support of the broader community to help us achieve this goal. Donations are also accepted to support a specific program, capital purchases and sustainable funding.
You can be a sponsor or donor to:
“Foothills Academy has created an environment where teachers have the expertise to understand children who have not been able to learn in larger classrooms…Sean’s success has not only been very gratifying for us but he is fulfilling an important function in our society. His success demonstrates the impact Foothills Academy has on the lives of individuals who learn in different ways.” – The DeWiel Family