Exciting Resource for 2e Teens! Interview with Sam Young

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This week on the Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Exciting Resource for 2e Teens! Interview with Sam Young.

Exciting Resource for 2e Teens! Interview with Sam Young

Exciting Resource for 2e Teens! Interview with Sam Young

Opportunities for neurodivergent teens to shine do not come often enough. Fortunately, for our 2e teens, Sam Young started Young Scholars Academy, where these awesome young people have opportunities to grow and shine while having FUN developing cool skills!

Vicki was SO excited to chat with Sam Young, founder of the Young Scholars Academy, as they shed light on the unique approach the academy takes to facilitate learning and growth for neurodivergent 2E teens, that is, twice-exceptional kids. Providing a platform for over thirty courses that run throughout the week, the academy stands as an exciting resource for homeschool families.

About Sam Young

Sam was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in the fourth grade and he always struggled through school. Not that he was that kid who misbehaved all the time but he was that kid that seemed to have his desk attached to the teacher’s desk.

Behavior was not the issue with Sam. It was focusing and understanding the school work before him.

He was not the kind of kid to play with blocks. Instead, he would take those blocks and make engineering traps out of them.

But he always seemed to struggle with seeing his own deficits, realizing he had not done enough (right before bedtime) or wondering why everything takes him so long. Then he connected with Bridges Academy and his life changed. Suddenly he was learning in the way he needed to. 

Bridges Academy used a strenghts-based approach that Sam fell in love with. He made it his goal to pay it forward and help young people for the next ten years. Along with teaching, Sam did some work in Bridges’ then-new research center, went to their graduate school, and then the pandemic hit.

The birth of the idea of Young Scholars Academy began and then blossomed into what it is today: an environment where 2e teens can interact with like-minded peers with the support of thirteen mentors and over 150 families.

A Place For 2e Teens

Young Scholars Academy has an approach that primarily focuses on creating an environment where neurodivergent kids can interact with like-minded peers. Understanding the significance of companionship among children, especially those with ADHD or autism, the academy strives to create an inclusive and supportive community.

By uniting children with shared interests and characteristics, the academy enables them to learn from and support one another.

Another key component of the Young Scholars Academy’s strategy is the involvement of neurodivergent mentors. These mentors, who have navigated their own challenges and have gained proficiency in their respective fields, serve as role models for the students.

They reassure the children that success is achievable, helping to instill hope and confidence in them.

Camps and Courses

Young Scholars Academy, or YSA, offers:

  • summer camps
  • live courses and
  • asynchronous courses for a variety of subjects.

However, the courses are not the usual “History 101” courses. Rather, they focus on higher-level college thinking, zooming in on those analytical perspectives of the subjects. For example, History 101 just isn’t as cool as the history of women in Vietnam!

The niche courses and camps for students, regardless of age, are on topics like:

  • Tools of War (which is learning about World War I and World War II weapons)
  • robotics
  • engineering
  • coding (where they actually design an app)
  • and more

And not just those kinds of courses, but extracurriculars also have things like:

  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Minecraft
  • theater improv to name a few.

In fact, they have seventeen different camps in place for kids to explore their different passion areas while hanging out with like-minded kids, all while being under the tutelage of neurodivergent mentors.

Courses like Shakespeare and geometry are less likely to be found at YSA, although those things definitely have their place. Rather, students explore more of a macro-view mindset of what we want our students to be exposed to (and where the schools are falling short).

Coming up soon are more rigorous, challenging courses that will be made available to students, such as:

  • AP Art History
  • AP Psychology
  • AP European History
  • AP Government 
  • Politics, and so on.

From Struggling To Strengths

Above all, the Young Scholars Academy aims to shift the narrative from focusing on struggles to celebrating strengths. They work tirelessly to lift children out of the darkness of self-doubt and onto a path of self-belief and accomplishment.

Sam stresses the importance of acknowledging the coexistence of ADHD with anxiety and depression. He believes that sharing personal experiences with these issues can create a safe space for students to discuss their own struggles. That’s why his students have mentors who understand 2e teens and invest in them!

Every child is just a mentor away from crossing the threshold into their own hero's journey. -Sam Young

His ultimate goal is to help students understand that it’s okay to have bad days, and that brighter days are on the horizon. In the end, it’s the transformative power of mentorship, paired with creating a sense of belonging among students, that sets the academy apart.

As Sam eloquently puts it:

Every child is just a mentor away from crossing the threshold into their own hero’s journey.

Learn More About Young Scholars Academy For Neurodivergent Kids

Vicki and Sam strongly recommend parents of neurodivergent children to visit the Young Scholars Academy website and explore the variety of programs offered for all 2e children between ages five to eighteen. Along with a wealth of educational resources, parents can also read encouraging success stories on the academy’s blog.

YSA strives to be a platform where children can connect and build relationships with their peers, mentors, and teachers. Through their courses, they emphasize the importance of an understanding and nurturing environment for neurodivergent kids.

Along with providing access to specialized resources, the academy also works hard to ensure that all students feel like they belong. This is done by creating a supportive and inclusive community, where students can feel safe to express themselves without fear of judgment or exclusion.

In the heart of every student at Young Scholars Academy is an untold story, and with each passing day in this empowering environment, they’re writing their own unique tale of discovery, growth, and triumph.

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