How we began

168In 1999, a special education teacher who was dissatisfied with what the public    school system was able to offer to its exceptional students, established Woodlawn Community Academy.

Its mission from day one was to provide a top quality, individualized education to all students, regardless of economic background or intellectual disability.   The academy distinguished itself early on by hiring experienced special education teachers with a commitment to the success of every student, low teacher to student ratios, a highly structured behavior management system and the latest in curriculum and technology.

WCA is based upon the belief that students learn best in a positive climate of respect, safety and trust where the educational program is designed and implemented by knowledgeable, dedicated and loving educators. This goal cannot be accomplished alone, cooperation and communication with the family of each child are essential elements of the school’s success.

Six WCA graduating classes have transitioned from high school to college or the work place.  Currently there are several things in place to help this transition to be a smooth one for many students.  There is a dual enrollment program that allows some students to do high school and college credits at the same time.   This past year, WCA also began to work with Florida Virtual School. Their course offerings allow some students to earn additional credits and gain experience with online learning.

However, there are a group of students that don’t consider conventional college or careers an option.  These students need life skills and job skills training to successfully transition from high school.  This is where our brainstorming began. How can we continue to make a difference in this student’s lives after they leave high school? How can we make this transition easier and more successful?

In 2012 we started a program as a response to these questions. Each of our students is treated as an employee of the Swanky Swine and has several job assignments each week. The employees are taught basic skills including counting money, making change, reading a schedule and recording inventory.   They have to wear a uniform, show up on time for their shifts and work without complaining. They are learning responsibility, cleanliness, customer service skills, social skills and how to handle food.

This is only the beginning of a much bigger dream.We believe that our students can be successful productive members of society not inspite of their differences but because of them.

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