Two years after launching a pilot program, a vocational school focused on teaching children with developmental disabilities in Leesburg officially celebrated its grand opening in July.
The school – known as PosAbilities Academy – is located on Woodridge Parkway near Lansdowne Resort and was founded by Claudia Skinner who has an 18-year-old daughter named Grace who has Down syndrome.
For the past few years, before developing PosAbilities, Skinner worried about her daughter’s future and she couldn’t imagine how she would find a job after graduation.
“There was nothing in the county that met our needs,” Skinner said. “In some programs, her abilities were too low to meet the admission criteria and in other programs, she was overqualified. She was in this limbo and I couldn’t find a program to meet her needs.
With her daughter as her inspiration, she set out to create a program that would provide her with more hands-on, hands-on experience so she could qualify for a job.
Skinner decided that if she was creating a home schooling program for her daughter, why not offer it to the whole community.
The individualized program she has created for high school students takes a creative, multi-layered approach to learning and examines the needs of each student by incorporating functional academic instruction, hands-on vocational training, and ABA-based instruction to prepare students for income-generating activities. employment after graduation.
PosAbilities students don’t have high behavior issues, she said, but need support to learn a job and someone to help them practice in order to get hired.
Skinner has partnered with local nonprofits and businesses in a variety of fields to provide students with the opportunities they need.
She cites a program focused on animal care that will allow students to serve as dog walkers or animal caretakers. Through internships, students practice their skills and PosAbilities teachers help refine those skills.
The current eight-week summer program involves approximately 10 students who meet daily for fun, age-appropriate games, field trips, and life lessons.
“We have strategic learning goals, but we try to make it fun for them to enjoy,” Skinner said.
With dance moves, laughs and a fun beat, students in the program even created a rap song showcasing the school.
“PosAbilities is the place to be,” the students rapped at a recent reunion.
PosAbilities Academy currently offers open enrollment for students. To visit posabilitiesacademy.com for more information.