Never, ever, ever give up.

Ahwatukee resident Rebecca Wangberg has been driven by the faculty at New Way Academy to overcome learning disabilities to push herself and become an excellent student.

She had struggled in the public school system with undiagnosed learning disabilities. The Wangbergs realized their daughter needed to change her learning environment and started searching for a solution.

They sought diagnostic testing independently. After an 11-month process, they found Rebecca had dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

After diagnostic testing when discussing the results Rebecca’s father, Kerry Wangberg, said he heard the sentence he would never forget, “Have you ever heard of New Way Academy?”

The family conducted additional research and decided they wanted to find out more about New Way Academy.

“We interviewed there. Rebecca went there. She went to summer school to see how she would socialize,” Kerry said.

Rebecca fit in and she enjoyed school. The Wangbergs decided to stick with the school. Now a senior at New Way Academy, Rebecca loves attending school.

“I love going to school. I love to learn,” she said, “that brought self confidence into my life again.”

New Way Academy uses a unique approach to fit its students’ needs. They have a good teacher-to-student ratio so students receive the individualized attention they need.

The academy has four reading specialists, five speech pathologists and a full-time occupational therapist. With a staff of 47 and nearly 150 students, each student receives plenty of one-on-one attention.

The individual attention and commitment to students has created a powerful learning environment.

“You have challenges in your life, but you can overcome. I needed help on my reading and math and they provided it,” Rebecca said.

She has also participated in extra curricular activities at the academy as well. She is very involved on campus and plays for the soccer team and runs in the cross country program.

New Way Academy has many with different learning disabilities, but they all come together in a safe learning environment.

“Everyone has been through, often, an emotional journey that everyone connects with,” Rebecca’s mother, Elaine Wangberg, said.

“We are all coming from the same place,” Kerry added.

Abby Ross, executive director of New Way Academy, is proud of the environment the academy has provided for kids.

Ross spoke about the school’s dances presenting a positive social experience for the kids.

“Everybody goes to the dances and everybody dances. Everybody is jamming the whole time,” she said.

Even the classrooms are designed to promote a better environment for students. The walls in each of the classrooms are a neutral color to avoid distracting students.

Ross explained by adding more academic posters and various other distractions on the walls. Even though schools typically add more items to the classroom walls to excite students to learn, Ross believes the contrary is important.

“It’s really allowing students to have many distractions,” Ross said, “we have redesigned how to set up classrooms everything has to be on a bulletin board and framed.”

The classrooms have even been painted and lighted in a way that helps students stay focused and attentive.

Rebecca has been inspired by her education to push herself in all aspects of life. She uses a motto from the school that now has become a part of her life.

The teachers have worn shirts that say, “Never, ever, ever give up,” and Rebecca has taken this motto to heart. She now uses it as she continues on to the next level of education.

Rebecca hopes to cure cancer in dogs after she lost a dog to cancer. She is going to pursue a career in a veterinary-realted field.

• Matt Covert is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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