Nacy Ryerson, Dean of School at Perspectives Preparatory Academy, shares about taking risks and changing perspectives in inclusive education.
Starting a brand-new school is something that people find both shocking and daunting-it is the fear of the unknown. In 2015, Josh and Courtney Ungaro, the founders of Perspectives Preparatory Academy, asked me if I would be willing to start a school. As shocked and humbled as I was, I had the same fears as many would when thinking about the task at hand.
Who even starts a school? How would we even go about doing this? The key was to use the strengths of the teachers, administration, founders, and community members to create something unique and special. Changing the landscape of education wouldn’t be easy, but it would be worth every second, every decision, and every risk from start to finish.
Perspectives Preparatory is a tuition-free private school, which celebrates student’s strengths. From the early planning days of six students in the Spring of 2017 to twenty-four students now enrolled, we have grown our wait-list to over 220 students. PPA is an inclusive school that serves a diverse student population–50% of our students have differing abilities and as such qualify as students with a disability, the remaining 50% are neurotypical do not qualify under IDEA, but we also have a gifted population of 8%. Keep in mind some of our gifted students also have a “differing ability” so we stay true to the inclusive model.
PPA is a tuition-free school because we believe that families deserve the highest quality college preparatory education for their learner. We focus on student strengths; our learners pursue their passions in their educational experience and learn from one another. The world is full of beautiful amazing humans that can and will contribute to their communities and PPA desires to change perspectives in our community and globally.
Taking a Risk
Starting a school might seem daunting, but I am glad our founders had the dream and took the chance to better serve the future of our community. Josh and Courtney Ungaro took a chance for our learners to choose who they will become. Our learners will be our future doctors, scientists, teachers or whoever else they choose.
Take a chance in your environment to better serve your learners in an inclusive setting–kids deserve for us all to take a risk.
Dean of School
Perspectives Preparatory Academy