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Individualized, Inclusive, Innovative: AMPed Hybrid Academy in Metro Detroit Michigan

Individualized, Inclusive, Innovative: AMPed Hybrid Academy in Metro Detroit Michigan
Anne Marie Palazzolo knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was five years old. After pursuing a degree in Special Education and Emotional Impairment, she realized she couldn’t reach students in the way she knew she could in a traditional school setting. Five years ago, she started her own business offering one-on-one education and small group classes. Her dream, though, was to start her own school one day. Along with her husband, Wes Kania, who brings years of experience in automotive and consulting, they founded AMPed Hybrid Academy (AHA) in 2023 in Farmington Hills, MI.
The schedule was purposely designed to maximize engagement for children and provide flexibility for families. With more parents working in remote or hybrid environments, AHA strives to allow for the flexibility to have their children at home more often. AHA is based on project-based learning where every student receives a personalized education plan (PEP) and learn in small, mixed-age classes. On days students are in person, they work collaboratively on projects, and on other days they are given short, specific tasks. For families looking for full time education, AMPed offers the Boost Program, which provides programming on the other days as well. 
Anne Marie and Wes both have family members with special needs and neurodiversity, and both feel strongly that AMPed Hybrid Academy should strive to meet the needs of students who struggle in traditional school settings. Combined with Anne Marie’s background in special education, AHA has been designed for kids of varying abilities and needs. From offering a variety of seating surfaces to a dedicated sensory room, AHA attempts to make every student feel welcome and comfortable. AHA strives to be an inclusive space for all students and families. 
What is one unique (or uncommon) feature of your microschool experience your learners and families tell you they especially value? 
We frequently hear that kids and their families love that you don’t have to make yourself fit into a certain mold at AMPed. You can be yourself and do what YOU need to learn best. If that means doing all of your research with a bearded dragon sitting in your lap, great. If that means making a video to demonstrate that you understand fractions, instead of taking a paper test, cool! If you ask our students, they will usually tell you “AMPed isn’t a regular school, its a fun school where you actually learn stuff.”
What is one favorite aspect of your work that would have been especially difficult to deliver in traditional school settings?
When my past students’ families were apprehensive to pursue testing for special education services, I’d always tell them that in a perfect world, EVERY student would have an IEP so they can get exactly what THEY need to be successful. At AMPed, the PEP or Personalized Education Plans for each student do just that. Regardless of ability, every student has their own learning plan, considerate of their needs, talents, preferences, and interests.
Please share a story about what success looks like in your microschool.
We hear regularly from parents in a very common situation. A parent contacts us, feeling frustrated and discouraged that their child has been unsuccessful in the past at school, sometimes at multiple schools. Many families have been searching for a better option with little success. They explain that their child is neurodivergent, but their needs are not significant enough (according to the school) to be provided any accommodations or supports. This has led to their child having verbal and physical outbursts in school, refusing to participate in their class, and generally growing to distrust and dislike school. And then they come visit AMPed.
Our classrooms don’t look like classrooms. Our sensory room is open to all, any time they need it. Our students eat, drink, and use the restroom whenever they need. Each student has the customized curriculum they need, designed to help them succeed. Their skills and talents are celebrated and incorporated into their learning. All of those outbursts and refusals disappear. Instead they’re engaged, enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge and learning new things, and building authentic relationships with our teachers, staff, and other children. ALL students can learn and love learning. They just may not thrive in the traditional school setting. Once students feel safe, supported, and seen, they can blossom.
 What is one piece of advice you give new microschool founders? 
 Keep making connections. The more I shared about what I was doing and why I was doing it, the more passionate supporters I met. We’re still early in our journey as a microschool but quickly learning that there is a need and a desire for schools like AMPed. We just need to get the word out. 
Please describe one facet of your microschool’s experience that you’d like people to think of when your microschool comes up in conversation. 
That AMPed Hybrid Academy celebrates the differences of each student. Our Personalized Education Plan (PEP) meetings are called PEP Rallies. Because that’s what they should be, a time to support, encourage, and get excited for the student and their learning.



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