#3 - Empowering neurodivergent students - With Kirstin Coughtrie, Founder of Gaia Learning

#3 - Empowering neurodivergent students - With Kirstin Coughtrie, Founder of Gaia Learning

In a recent "Learn and Shift" podcast episode, Kristen shared her remarkable journey in education, dedicated to neurodivergent students, including those with autism, ADHD, and dyslexia. Kristen's innovative approach is making waves in the education landscape, offering inclusivity and personalization.

Tailored for Neurodiversity

Kristen's initiative focuses on creating a supportive learning environment for neurodivergent students who often struggle in traditional classrooms. Her team's online program, accredited by Cambridge International, provides a flexible, personalized curriculum that caters to individual needs.

Freedom to Choose

The uniqueness of Kristen's program lies in the freedom it grants students. They can learn individually, in small groups, or a blend of both. This autonomy allows them to dictate the pace and style of their learning.

Addressing Key Challenges

Neurodivergent students often face sensory issues, sensory overload, and rigid teaching methods in conventional schools. Kristen's program is designed to tackle these challenges by offering a more adaptable and personalized approach.

Rising Demand

With increasing demand from parents, schools, and local authorities for alternative education options, Kristen's initiative is well-timed. Traditional schools are struggling to meet the diverse needs of neurodivergent students, and her program provides a much-needed solution.

Fostering Belonging

Kristen's program not only enhances academic performance but also nurtures students' mental well-being and a sense of belonging. It's a crucial step towards breaking the feeling of isolation neurodivergent students often experience.

Scalable and Engaging

Kristen's program has scalability at its core, aiming to grow from an initial 16 students to around 200 by year-end. Small class sizes, interactive teaching methods, and the use of technology ensure an engaging and personalized learning experience.

Harnessing Technology

Technology plays a pivotal role in Kristen's approach. It's used to reduce distractions and create personalized learning experiences. Data from sources like smartwatches is harnessed to tailor the learning environment for each student.

Empowering Focus

Technology is leveraged to enhance students' focus. Kristen emphasizes the importance of making technology unobtrusive and user-friendly, streamlining the learning process while collecting valuable data on students' learning experiences.

Supporting Well-Being

Kristen's program goes beyond academics, focusing on students' mental health, resilience, and real-world skills. It provides a safe space for students to gain confidence and transition into more traditional settings if they choose.

Inclusivity for All

Kristen believes that her personalized and flexible approach can benefit all students, not just those who are neurodivergent. It's a vision for education that accommodates individual learning styles.

A Vision for the Future

Kristen envisions a future where traditional schools exist alongside flexible online platforms, breaking down barriers and connecting students from around the world. It's a vision of inclusivity and understanding.

Accelerated Growth

Kristen and her partner, Kate, are entering an accelerator program to expand their initiative. Their journey from being single parents to education innovators is inspiring and demonstrates the potential for change in the sector.

Global Connections

The conversation closes with Kristen's excitement for the future of education. She highlights the importance of global connections in shaping the future, celebrating the positives in education, and empowering students and parents to take ownership of their learning experiences.


Kristen's journey in education is an inspiring tale of transformation. Her commitment to inclusivity, personalization, and the well-being of students offers a beacon of hope in education.