About

Mission of Wings to Soar

Wings to Soar is passionate about helping dyslexics and other outside-the-box learners break the chains of shame, failure, and inadequacy that so often surround learning challenges.

We help them see the flip-side strengths that often go along with their different brain wiring.

We  empower outside-the-box learners to become the best versions of themselves, embrace their unique wiring, and gain the skills and confidence to not just survive but thrive in school and in life.

We do this by creating a Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan for each student.

Wings to Soar Online Academy

Wings to Soar Online Academy empowers dyslexics and other outside-the-box learners to gain confidence and independence by embracing strengths and addressing weak skills, so they aren’t just surviving, but thriving in school and in life!  We help break the chains of failure, shame, and inadequacy that far too often hold back outside-the-box learners by helping them find success. We do this by creating Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plans for our student starting at their Just-Right Level™, filling in skill gaps, and helping them gain wings to soar!

Our students love working in our online programs. Our moms love how easy it is to meet each of their kids right where they are. And we love helping families thrive with our whole-person, personalized approach to education.

Wings to Soar Online Academy grew out of our founder’s experience running Hope Academy, a small private school serving outside-the-box middle and high school students in Madison, WI from 2003-2011 to meet the cry she heard as she spoke and consulted at conventions around the US of “I wish your school were here.” In 2011, she made the shift to our hybrid approach to personalized education through online learning, partnering with parents in over 20 US states and 4 foreign countries, currently serving more than 120 students.

About Wings to Soar History

Wings to Soar Online Academy grew out of a small private brick-and-mortar school in Madison, Wisconsin serving three to thirteen outside-the-box middle and high school students each year from 2003-2011 called Hope Academy.  

In 2011, our founder decided that her gifts would better serve a wider audience if she closed the physical school and shifted to offering a hybrid of online education and homeschooling. This returned us more closely to our original university model of part-time study with a teacher and part-time work at home supervised by the parent. This allows us to reach many more students.

What led to this switch? In over a dozen cities, as our founder spoke and consulted at homeschool conventions, parents would tell her, “Oh, I wish your school were here!” She realized that with the internet it could be.­

As our Intervention Specialist became more and more skilled at creating our Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan for our students through various combinations of programs, we began seeing even better results with students online than she had gotten in her one-to-one dyslexia tutoring, and at much lower cost for the families.

About Founder Beth Ellen Nash

Beth Ellen Nash has her education degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and has 19 years’ experience working with struggling learners. She was the founder, director, and lead teacher for eight years at Hope Academy, a school for struggling middle school and high school students in Madison, Wisconsin from 2003-2011.

In 2011 she shifted toward an individualized online and homeschool hybrid option and founded Wings to Soar Online Academy, specializing in the creation of Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plans for dyslexics and other outside-the-box learners from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Beth Ellen is currently Curriculum Coordinator, Intervention Specialist, and Integrated Liberal Studies teacher for Wings to Soar Online Academy. She has tutored, assessed, and consulted with hundreds of families, companies, and charter schools. She is the author of Wings to Soar: Integrated, Multisensory Language Arts with Words You Really Use and Dyslexia Outside-the-Box.

How my passion for outside-the-box learners began

I suppose you could say my journey helping outside-the-box learners began when, at sixteen years old, I wrote a play at church, customizing parts for the other kids, knowing Alice could handle four lines, Noah could do more, Jill was ready for a challenge, and so on.

The journey that brought me to where I am now began in my very first education course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an assignment to write about my philosophy of education. As I wrote my paper, I realized that I would need to design my own school someday in order to provide education the way I believed it needed to be done.

Even during my student teaching, I had a passion for the outside-the-box learner who just wasn’t making it in the traditional classroom. I asked if I could take a few struggling students to the library to help them. I had no curriculum or experience, but I knew that having these students sitting in the back of the classroom struggling to keep up with a language-heavy math curriculum was not the solution. So, we did hands-on practice on real-world skills like money and measurement. The kids were now engaged in meaningful learning that targeted specific skills they needed to learn.

I taught in a progressive private school for two years, but felt compelled to leave that classroom in order to gain broader experience to help me reach my goal of starting a school. I spent three years applying for every position I was qualified for within an hour of my home.  I never got any of the positions, which was a blessing, I believe.  Perhaps a handful of kids would have benefitted from my passion for their outside-the-box learning needs, but bureaucratic constraints would have limited what I could have done for them.

Nor would I have had the kind of impact I was meant to have. I am now equipping, empowering, and inspiring hundreds of students, parents, and teachers across the country and around the world each year.

My path got clearer a few years later when I was substitute teaching in a public school.  When I asked for guidance on how to help four students who failed just about every test they took, my colleague told me, “Some of them just aren’t going to make it.” While I said nothing, inside I screamed, “Not on my watch! Not in my classroom!”

Some of them just aren’t going to make it wasn’t an acceptable option. So, I worked long hours, provided extra help during recess, differentiated curriculum, and designed alternate performance assessments. I also referred students to be evaluated for whether they qualified to receive special education services. This season in a public school classroom reconfirmed that I didn’t belong in a traditional classroom, where I couldn’t always offer what I felt that the students really needed.

Over this time period I saw that I could have greater impact outside of the traditional classroom. Not knowing yet how that impact should be made, I began tutoring. I learned through trial and error what worked for students facing a variety of challenges. My passion for the struggling learner grew.

I sought additional training as I encountered new learning challenges. I took advanced instruction in attachment disorders, autism, Orton-Gillingham, Davis® Dyslexia Correction, and the National Institute for Learning Development’s intervention approaches. Perhaps someday I’ll find a university that will allow me to earn a customized master’s degree for my hard-won experience and all the additional trainings that don’t fit neatly within the current post-bachelor’s standards.

Speaker and Author

Beth Ellen Nash is a sought-after speaker for homeschooling and teacher conferences, retreats, and professional development for private and charter schools. She tailors her talks to the needs of the audience, drawing on her experience with students ages 3 to 21 with dyslexia, ADHD, autism spectrum, RAD, OCD, anxiety, depression, and learning disabilities, and those who otherwise learn differently from traditional schooling.

Signature Talks

  • Dyslexia Outside-the-Box: A Refreshing Perspective on the Flip-side Strengths of Dyslexia
  • I Just Forgot! Attention, Memory, and Executive Functions
  • Thriving As a Highly Sensitive Person
  • Homeschooling for Outside the Box Learning: Scaffolding for Success
  • Taking Stock of What’s Working and What’s Not in Your Homeschooling Setting
  • Customizing Curriculum for Your Outside the Box Learner
  • Spelling Tips and Multisensory Strategies for Memorizing Spelling Words
  • Foundations in Phonological and Phonemic Awareness
  • Teaching All Kinds of Minds
  • Developing Habits of Mind for Lifelong Success

Beth Ellen also offers a Teen Track for homeschool conventions which also can be adapted for youth group or private school retreats.

  • Becoming the Me I Wanna Be™Teen Track

About Teacher Erin Smilkstein

Miss Erin has been teaching math to both Gifted and At-Risk students for over 20 years.  In 2000, she became an educational therapist. In addition to her work with students, Miss Erin was a guest lecturer for the Education Department of Loyola Marymount University and designed educational games for early reading and math skills. The software she helped design is currently available and being used in K-5 classrooms and was part of the Readers’ Choice Top 100 Products Award for 2007-2008.

Educational Background  and Expertise

Miss Erin created and wrote a math program for Los Angeles Unified School District’s largest afterschool nonprofit, LA’s BEST, that is currently used in over 25 schools sites to excite inner-city children about math. She has personally worked with hundreds of children and her techniques are used by thousands of children across the nation. She was a regular contributor for the Homeschool Handbook and has spoken both at virtual and state conferences to educate and enlighten audiences about creative thinking with math and online educational models.

Miss Erin holds a Master’s degree in Math Education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Role with Wings to Soar

At Wings to Soar, Miss Erin is our math coach and meets with math students one-on-one for support and monitors their math programs to make sure each child is working to their potential and staying on track.

About Teacher Shannon Greaves

Mrs. G has worked with learning-challenged students both online and in the classroom for over 27 years. She has taught in public schools (K-12), as an educational consultant in technology and curriculum design, as a graduate-level seminar instructor, and as an instructor/curriculum designer for Wings to Soar Online Academy. She has taught English/LA, Social Studies, Study Skills, and project-based learning to K-12 students across multiple school districts in southern Wisconsin.  

In addition, she has conducted numerous workshops and seminars on technology integration, technology in education, authentic assessment, using continuous development concepts in the classroom, physical activity,  regulation and learning, and project-based curriculum design. Mrs. G won the prestigious Robert W. Baird & Associates Excellence in Teaching Award for her curriculum that teaches middle school students entrepreneurial and small business skills.

Educational Background and Expertise

In addition to teaching at the middle school level in Stoughton, WI for a 15 years, Mrs G worked for nearly a decade as a Technology Integrator and consultant to K-12 school districts across southern WI.  She was an instructor for 4 years with the Wisconsin Center for Academically Talented Youth (WCATY – UW Madison) and designed curriculum for gifted middle school students who attend WCATY. Throughout her teaching career, she has tutored both online and in-person dozens of students ages 7-21.

Having homeschooled her sons, both of whom have learning challenges and were gifted, she has spent over 20 years studying and practicing strategies to help students with ADD/ADHD and processing/planning/executive functioning issues.

She has considerable experience working with students who have Asperger’s Syndrome.  She and her now-grown sons (with ADHD & Aspergers) have shared their experiences learning together in various articles, interviews, and other print media.

Role with Wings to Soar

At Wings to Soar, Mrs. G develops and teaches all English/LA-based courses from grades 4-12. She coordinates the Wings to Soar Online Academy student/parent website, develops curricular products to help students with the writing process, facilitates Success Coaching, 1-on-1 instruction, and Independent Study, and supports parents in transitioning to and from public school to the online learning environment.

About Teacher Georgia Smith-Wallace

After majoring in chemistry, Miss Georgia worked in a laboratory setting for 10 years. In 1996 she started homeschooling and designing and teaching science classes for homeschoolers and never looked back. She is currently the science teacher for Wings to Soar Online Academy, mom to two college students and one college grad, and a lifelong learner.

Educational Background and Expertise

In addition to two years of teaching at Wings to Soar, Miss Georgia has developed and taught many science classes at cooperatives and afterschool programs, including interdisciplinary and project-based courses. Her expertise lies in relating scientific concepts to daily life, helping students understand the big ideas of science, and connecting curriculum to the student’s real life experiences.

Role with Wings to Soar

At Wings to Soar, Miss Georgia provides weekly science classes for middle and high school age students tailored to the individual student’s needs, where students can explore their world and relate science to their everyday lives.