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The mother of a Down's syndrome child, Baxter wanted to ensure a safe learning environment for her daughter Kristin as she moved into middle school. Baxter's solution? She founded her own school. "(My) daughter was heading to middle school, which really frightened me because she is special needs," Baxter said. "I felt she needed a very safe, secure environment without bullying." Learn more: Special Kids Academy The school is Special Kids Academy and housed at Lake Seminole Presbyterian Church in Seminole. The private school offers a computer-based curriculum for grades 1-12 special needs students in what Baxter calls a "secure and caring environment." The first-of-its-kind school, which opened in 2011, offers specific instruction for students, each of whom has their own laptop. The school's computer based curriculum is designed for the student's level and pace in Math, Science, Social Studies and Language Arts. The school also offers art and music and speech therapy. Most of the students have experienced some type of bullying at previous schools, Baxter said. And that makes it even more worthwhile to see how far the students have come she said. "It's very rewarding," Baxter said. "Then to see the report cards and how ell they do. It is so rewarding that they are successful." And, two more special needs schools will be opening in the fall in St. Petersburg and Seminole, one of which will be primarily for blind and sight-impaired students.
Lisa Baxter, Founder of Special Kids Academy