New High School Offers STEM Curriculum for Students with Social and Learning Differences

By Elena Epstein

special needs STEM3

The keen ability of many students with social or learning differences to see subtle variations in color, patterns and shapes is useful in debugging intricate computer software programs. PHOTO COURTESY THE HELP GROUP

STEM3 Academy is a new, innovative high school opening this fall, designed for students with social and learning differences and a passion for science and technology.

The school, operated by The Help Group in the Valley Glen neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley, offers a rigorous curriculum in science, technology, engineering and math to students in grades 9 through 12.

“There is a growing realization that we are short of people with certain technical skills,” says Ellis Crasnow, Ph.D, director of STEM Education at The Help Group, who is overseeing the development of the school. “At The Help Group, we realize that many of our students have a unique set of skills. They are very gifted when it comes to math, science and technology.”

Crasnow says he works with many students who have learning or social differences, but are above average when it comes to visual discrimination skills. Their keen ability to see subtle variations in color, patterns and shapes is useful in examining satellite images or debugging intricate computer software programs.

special needs STEM3 robotics

STEM3, The Help Group’s newest school, will offer an award-winning robotics program. PHOTO COURTESY THE HELP GROUP

The Help Group’s nine specialized day schools offer pre-K through high school programs for students with special needs related to au­tism spectrum disorder, learning disabili­ties, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional problems.

STEM3, The Help Group’s newest school, will offer students a wide range of Advanced Placement classes and courses in computer programming, digital arts and videography, plus an award-winning robotics program, internships and a state-of-the-art Innovation Lab.

“We are looking for students who have a passion for something, who want to learn more, know more, explore interests of their own,” says Crasnow. “We will challenge them and support them to pursue their passion.”

The program, featuring in-class projects, internships and personalized education plans, is designed to give students the tools they need to continue their studies into college and take advantage of the growing professional opportunities available in STEM-related fields. Group projects and teamwork are woven into each class to prepare students for success in a professional environment, where presentation and interpersonal skills are required.

“We want our students to focus on their assets and their talents, and al­low them to stand shoulder to shoulder with their peers,” says Crasnow.

STEM3 Academy opens Aug. 24 and will offer open enrollment throughout the year. For more information or to schedule a tour, visit or contact Crasnow at 818-625-6324 or

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