A Silicon Valley Start-Up
In September 2010 Athena Academy was founded as a one-room school in Emerald Hills with two students and two teachers trained in the visual-spatial methods of teaching dyslexic learners. For the next two years a team of educators, parents and researchers identified the best elements for a full curriculum dyslexia school.
In September 2012 phase two began, with a 3.6 acre campus in Palo Alto and a full staff of teachers and administrators.
The founder, Carla Rayacich, has personally experienced the challenges parents go through trying to help their dyslexic children. Both her twins have dyslexia.
She says, "After two years in a traditional dyslexia program, my children had made very little progress. Then we tried an advanced method that used their visual-spatial thinking, and the results were amazing. In two days my children went from reading poorly with no comprehension, to reading a whole story with few errors and complete understanding! It was a true breakthrough." That’s when she knew there needed to be a school making these advanced techniques available in the classroom.
The name was inspired by Rick Riordan’s popular “Percy Jackson” book series. The books are about the adventures of the Greek gods and their half-human children—demigods—in modern times. All the demi-gods are dyslexic, like our students. The god most fitting to our school was Athena, the god of wisdom and strategy.
In these books, the demigods use their dyslexia as an advantage in many areas: reading ancient Greek, problem solving, and quick action to conquer challenges. Their visual spatial abilities allow them to excel at fencing, battling, and saving the world. Just like our students will.