LANDRUM, S.C. (WSPA) – Hope Academy opened the doors of its permanent school campus for children on the autism spectrum Tuesday in Landrum.
The school is serving students from Kindergarten through 12th grade through the non-profit organization Project HOPE Foundation, which offers a lifetime of services to the autism community.
With six other campuses, Hope Academy has been using borrowed spaces for its classrooms for more than 20 years.
For teacher Lindsay Small, a classroom of her own was a big deal. She’s been teaching students on the autism spectrum in small spaces, but says having a new large campus on 30 acres with a mountain view makes all the difference.
“You can see there’s a higher level of motivation when they have those things, because this is their space now. This is all for the, and all we’ve put into it is for them,” she says.
Accredited by the South Carolina Independent School Association, Hope Academy teaches children on and off the autism spectrum in inclusion classrooms, with board certified behavior analysts on staff.
“Over the past 20 years we’ve been doing this, we know that is tremendously beneficial to both sets of the population,” Co-Executive Director Lisa Lane says.
Curriculum is individualized according to each students needs and combines 1 to 1 ABA behavioral therapy with education.
“We’ve got some kids who are learning academics getting ready to move into a mainstream classroom,” Lane says. “We have others learning how to communicate with an iPad.”
Once Blue Ridge Christian Academy, the school is complete with a cafeteria, gym and playground and was recently purchased and donated to Project HOPE Foundation by Laurin and Tab Patton.
“We’ve had countless people come up and step up to get this property ready,” Lane says.
As not only a teacher but a former neuro-typical student at Hope Academy, Small is one of many who have been hoping for a school like this for years.
“We’ve made due wherever we were, but now we finally have what we need to start a new chapter,” Small says.
Since this Landrum campus is now being used for all 70 of its current Hope Academy students, the other 6 hope Academy campuses will be used for therapy and other services for children and adults.
There is still plenty of room for more students, and Hope Academy is still accepting students who are not on the autism spectrum for this school year. Children who are on the autism spectrum can apply here.