Pier Learning Center

The Pier Learning Center offers alternative education programs for K-12th grade students with a current IEP who need enhanced behavioral, emotional and special education services.

The Pier Learning Center is part of the Pier Center for Autism, a program of Mid-Step Services.  The center is located in a newly constructed facility at 3895 Stadium Drive in Sioux City, IA 51106.  Students attending are not limited by an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Goal of The Pier Learning Center

To serve the needs of students who present a variety of challenges for the individual school team who are not successful in a traditional learning environment.  The ultimate goal for each student is to transition back to their home school district demonstrating and generalizing socially acceptable skills that they would use in their everyday life.


  • Students will have access to high quality, evidence-based strategies and curriculum that encompasses academics, social, behavioral and mental health services with a small teacher/student ratio.
  •  Assessment of skills in the areas of social communication, emotional regulation, flexibility and other areas that may impede learning.  Design a program that matches the assessment, and implement the program with fidelity.
  • Ongoing progress monitoring
  • Provide a positive atmosphere that states rules and behavioral expectations, with incorporation of schedules and routines.
  • Implementation of Iowa Core State standards
  • Parent training
  • Training opportunities for home district school staff to understand the behavior plan and demonstrate the skills to implement.

Meet Our Staff:

Multi-Disciplinary team where each member plays a critical role identifying and analyzing the student’s strengths and needs.  The Pier Learning staff delivers high quality academic, functional, and social-emotional curriculum that is tailored to meet each student’s individual needs as identified within their Individual Education Plan (IEP).  Staff includes certified Iowa Special Education Teachers, Board Certified Behavior Analysts, and a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.  

For application and or additional information contact:

Gary Turbes, Executive Director
[email protected] (712) 274-2252

Jesse Rhiannon Persons
Special Education Teacher

Jesse joined The Pier Center for Autism as a Teacher for The Pier Learning Center in 2021. Jesse has a dual bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Grand Canyon University. She holds Iowa and Arizona licensure to teach Elementary Education K-6, K-8 Special Education Mild/Moderate, and K-12 Special Education LD/BD Strategist 2. Jesse plans to begin work on her Master’s of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis from Endicott College in the spring. Jesse’s experience began as a paraeducator sub at Woodbury Central School District. She then served the Lawton-Bronson school district as a paraeducator for several years, working with challenging behaviors. Jesse most recently served as a K-2 Special Education Teacher for the Foundations program at Riverside Elementary, in the Sioux City School District. Jesse has a varied background in serving children with Autism from PK-8th grade. She is excited to be part of the founding team of The Pier Learning Center, and looks forward to continuing to serve the Autism community and making a difference in the lives of students and their families.