SEFFNER — Colette Stibich likes to provide all the social development opportunities she can for her 9-year-old nonverbal autistic son, Julian.
Two years ago, the Apollo Beach resident helped East Bay Little League create a Challenger Baseball division for children with physical and mental disabilities.
There, she met Kathy Gross, an educator with a 10-year-old autistic son, Hayden. After enrolling their children in several schools — including Lighthouse Center for Creative Learning, Pepin Academy and Bay Life Academy (now Livingstone Academy) — Stibich and Gross decided to open their own private, nonprofit school.
Impact Academy will open for the 2014-15 school year to serve autistic children and students with other disabilities.
The academy, located in Seffner, has enrolled more than 40 students for its inaugural school year with Stibich as administrator, Gross as principal and Yvonne First as director of student affairs.
"We've been to many schools for the past five years," Stibich said. "We decided to do it on our own. It's a very different animal. It's personal."
The 8,000-square-foot building at 1301 S Parsons Ave. offers K-12 students a dozen classrooms, a sensory gym and opportunities for the four teachers, four assistants and 20 therapists with applied behavior analysis backgrounds to educate children ages 5 to 22. The school will rely on individualized education plans and real-world social situations.
The school, which kept the same Impact name as the church that previously operated there, focuses on functional living development through which students can learn to make beds, wash silverware, fold laundry and cook with a microwave.
Outings to places like the barbershop and dollar store are also planned, in addition to field trips to venues such as the Glazer Children's Museum, Lowry Park Zoo and the bowling alley.
The building has a capacity of 167 people, but the owners of Impact have decided to cap the first-year enrollment at 45 to establish policies and procedures. Parents can expect daily communication, monthly progress reports and quarterly report cards.
The school also has an art room, music room, computer lab, quiet room, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, teacher lounge, a "beach zone," which is the reward and game room, and a cafeteria/assembly room that will house the before- and after-school care program. Outside the school is a new butterfly garden and security system.
The owners said Seffner was a central choice for the children who come from all over the Tampa Bay area. Tuition varies based on the individual needs of the students, but Impact Academy does accept the McKay Scholarship.
Call (813) 693-5101 or visit impactacademyschool.org to learn more.
Martial arts center expands to Brandon
Quality Martial Arts will expand to Brandon with its third location.
The center started in Riverview in 2009 and also has a location in Clearwater Beach.
The center promises to deliver confidence, discipline, responsibility, awareness and accountability to its students with the founding principles of the Korean art of tae kwon do.
The staff of black belts offers backgrounds in multiple martial arts disciplines and packs in more than 75 years of training and expertise. The staff includes Master M. Hayes and Dakeyan "Dre" Graham, band and orchestra director at King High School.
It also includes Robyn Roldan Hayes, Brandon Hayes, Breanne Walden, Bryce Hayes and Terry O' Toole.
Quality Martial Arts is located at 1259 Kingsway Road and can be reached at (813) 330-7930. It offers evening classes.
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