Bridgeway Academy is a central Ohio non-profit organization with a mission to meet the educational and therapeutic needs of children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Bridgeway Academy’s unique learning environment has a joyful atmosphere where developmental distinctions do not exist. Each student is celebrated as their own special individual in an atmosphere that is loving and compassionate.
Bridgeway Academy was founded by Abigail S. David and Erin K. Nealy in 2005 as Helping Hands Center for Special Needs, providing individualized educational and therapeutic services for children in early-intervention/preschool and Kindergarten. Over the past 12 years, the organization has grown exponentially, and now has 155 students enrolled in its Education Center, from early-intervention/preschool through 10th grade. Therapy Center services include Physical, Occupational, Speech and Music therapies and Psychological services for all students in the Education Center as well as other clients in the community receiving therapies only. Camp Bridgeway is the organization’s summer program, providing 8-weeks of recreational and academic programming.
Organizational Growth and Opportunities
The Centers for Disease Control now estimate that 1 in every 63rd child both in the U.S. will receive an autism diagnosis. Bridgeway Academy has responded to this growing need for services, by expanding its programs and population served. As a result, the organization’s families and staff have faced a number of challenges, including:
- limited programming space for our growing middle and high school classrooms
- inadequate therapy treatment space; and,
- maintaining the safety and welfare of all our students
In response to these concerns, Bridgeway Academy will open the Bridgeway Academy Secondary School and Therapy Center in August 2017. The Secondary School will be housed in a former Columbus City School building located at 2155 Fenton Street, Columbus 43224. The Secondary School allows for the expansion of Bridgeway Academy’s current program on Medary Avenue, and will serve students 4th grade and above. In addition, the Secondary School will house the organization’s Life Skills and Vocational Skills Centers. These programs provide middle and high-school aged students the opportunity to practice and master daily living and vocational skills, preparing them for independence, employment or post-secondary educational opportunities after Bridgeway Academy. The current location on Medary Avenue will be known as Bridgeway Academy Primary School and Therapy Center. The expansion will allow for additional children, early-intervention through third grade, to be served by this organization’s comprehensive educational and therapeutic programs.
Opening the Secondary School allows Bridgeway Academy to serve more students and families in the community, expands educational and therapeutic opportunities and ensures a safe and effective learning environment for all students. This expansion also alleviates issues of overcrowding at its current location on Medary Avenue, providing staff at both locations with a comfortable, effective and efficient work environment and fostering leadership and growth opportunities.
Bridgeway Academy has a vision to be the established and preferred organization for all services related to autism and other developmental disabilities. The opening of the Secondary School and Therapy Center is a small step in accomplishing this vision, which includes re-joining the Primary and Secondary Schools on one campus. Bridgeway Academy receives oversight from its Board of Trustees and its work is guided by its Strategic Plan. To learn more, please visit: www.bridgewayohio.org or call 614-2627520.
For a Social Story to share with your students, please click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When will the Secondary School open?
At the start of the 2017-18 academic year, August 15, 2017.
- Who will attend the Secondary School?
Students in classrooms 4th grade and above will move to the Secondary School. The Therapy Center and all current programs offered at Bridgeway Academy will continue to be provided at the Primary School.
- What is happening to the Medary Avenue location?
The Medary Avenue location will become known as the Primary School and will house students in the early-intervention through 3rd grade classrooms. The Therapy Center and all current programs offered at Bridgeway Academy will continue to be provided at the Primary School.
- Why make this change now?
Bridgeway Academy’s program expansion has coincided with the expansion of autism diagnosis in the United States, now at 1 in every 63rd child born. As a result, Bridgeway Academy now serves middle and high school students, offers family partnership programs and life and vocational skill centers. To execute its programs efficiently and effectively, additional space is required.
- Why move to the Fenton Street location?
The Fenton St. building was closed by Columbus City Schools (CCS) when the Spanish Immersion School opened its new campus on Maize Rd. leaving this building empty and available for use by Bridgeway Academy. The building is a manageable size, ADA accessible and reasonably close to the Medary Avenue site allowing Bridgeway Academy to continue its excellent programs while continuing its dedication to staff collaboration and individualized services for all students.
- Where will the Secondary School be located?
Bridgeway Academy’s Secondary School will be located in the Morse Road area at 2155 Fenton Street, Columbus 43224: east of Karl Rd., West of Cleveland Ave., South of Morse Rd. and North of Cooke Rd. The most direct way to access this location is from Cooke Road. The Secondary School is a 14 minute drive from the Primary School.
- Where will I go for Therapy Services?
All Therapy Services will be available at both the Secondary and Primary School locations. For students enrolled in the Education Center, therapy services will continue at their school location. For individuals receiving therapy or psychological services ONLY, your location may change. Your therapy team will be in contact with you directly as this schedule is confirmed.
- Will there still be a staggered drop-off and pick-up?
Drop off and pick up will still be staggered as we wish to maintain consistency for students and families. This will also allow families with students attending both locations to successfully drop off and pick up with no scheduling conflicts.
- Where will summer camp take place?
Summer Camp 2017 remains at the Medary Avenue location. Summer Camp 2018 will take place in the location of the child’s placement of the prior academic year (2017-18). A rich and age-appropriate summer camp experience will continue to be provided for students in both the Primary and Secondary School location.
- How will Bridgeway Academy’s staff be configured to serve both locations
Bridgeway Academy’s Executive Directors, Business Operations, HR and Development Directors, Psychologists, Therapists, Family Partnership Services and Facilities Director will spend time in both buildings. Additional facilities staff will be hired to manage physical operations at the Secondary School.
Program and Behavior Specialists and Assistant Program and Behavior Specialists will be assigned to specific buildings, as will floater staff.
- Will there be before- and after-care available in both locations?
- Will the Secondary School have the same educational and therapy resources as the Primary School?
Yes, both locations will have the same educational and therapeutic resources (e.g. SMARTboardsTM and other technology, PT and therapy equipment). Resources will be age-appropriate and meet the needs of each location’s student populations.
- How will Bridgeway Academy assist its students with this change?
Bridgeway Academy will have Social Stories available to share with students both at Bridgeway Academy and at home. Opportunities for students to visit the Secondary School will occur during Camp Bridgeway. Bridgeway Academy is planning a mid-summer family carnival at the Secondary School location.