SAN ANTONIO – The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, a unique, non-profit learning environment for special-needs students next to the world’s first ultra-accessible theme park, has become the first and only school of its kind in Texas to earn national accreditation.
The National Commission for the Accreditation of Special Education Services (NCASES), headquartered in Washington, D. C., notified The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland of its accreditation following months of NCASES review of the school’s organization, administration, personnel and student services.
“By volunteering for an NCASES accreditation review, you have demonstrated your commitment to providing the highest standards of educational services for your students and have set a fine example for others in the field to follow,” said Joe Leshko, NCASES chairman.
Dr. Susan Bineham, The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland head of school, said the national accreditation will be in effect until 2020, at which time the school can again seek accreditation. “We are absolutely thrilled to know that independent educational experts have thoroughly examined what we’re doing at The Academy,” she said, “and they really like our approach to helping students with cognitive challenges.”
Founded by philanthropists Gordon and Maggie Hartman in 2011, The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland focuses on preparing students with special needs for life and work. The school at 5235 David Edwards Drive at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive in Northeast San Antonio welcomes students ranging in age from 12 to 24.
“We view national accreditation as a major stride forward in our relatively young history,” said Gordon Hartman. “This gives further credence to our school’s overriding objective – providing our students with a blend of academic, life skills and vocational instruction to help each one reach his or her
maximum individual potential. And, because of its location next to Morgan’s Wonderland, the school benefits from facilities and programming not available anywhere else.”
National accreditation comes on the heels of endorsement of The Academy two years ago by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as an Approved Non-Public School, Dr. Bineham said. This enables The Academy to accommodate additional students with special needs whose educational requirements cannot be met in a public-school setting. TEA, the state agency that provides leadership, guidance and resources to help schools meet the educational needs of all Texas students, granted the endorsement after a thorough review to assure The Academy meets state standards in areas such as health and safety, teacher certification and curriculum, to name a few.
In addition to academic instruction and physical education, The Academy offers its Bridge Program that teaches life skills to help students become productive adults. For example, The Academy Business Center was created, thanks to a generous donation of reprographics equipment from DOCUmation. It’s the first of several job centers planned by The Academy so Bridge Program students will be able to produce retail products to market and simultaneously learn real-world business practices.
The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, which will begin fall-semester classes Aug. 25, accepts applications from prospective students year-round. Families that cannot afford the entire amount of The Academy’s tuition can apply for the school’s Tuition Assistance Program. For more information about The Academy, visit www.MorgansWonderland.academy, or call (210) 479-3311.