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To whom it may concern,

            This little academy known as Journeys has made an unbelievable positive affect in my son, Spencer. If it was not for Journeys, my son would still be bullied and struggling everyday with the constant bombardment of negativity towards him he experienced in the public-school system. The open arms of Journeys have made his outlook on like 100% brighter. I personally witnessed his bullying when I attended lunch with him at his previous school one day and there were these boys across from him (his back was turned to them) and they were tossing food and laughing. Spencer did not even notice they were doing this, so it led me to believe this was an everyday norm for him.

            He has always struggled to fit in whether it was academically, athletically, or simply mingling with kids his own age. He was constantly put into the special ed classes, but this didn’t seem to fit him tither, especially since he was not quire at the level of mentally handicapped but not quite at the status quo wither. Someone in between was where Spencer fit, yet we struggled to find where that exactly was. Then we heard of Journeys through his Psych doctor, Dr. Stevens (whom is wonderful) and he pointed us in their direction. From day one, the staff has been like family to us and has always kept an open-door policy. We have stopped by both scheduled and unannounced and the reception has been the same either way, warm with welcome, friendly smiles. The academia put forth for my son is spot on to his grade level and he is constantly coming home bragging on his teachers and how much fun it is to learn with them. At home he is constantly telling my wife and I what he learned and how much fun he had with his friends.

            Without a doubt, this place has made Spencer a better person in an extremely short amount of time. He is happier, smiles more, and is learning so much for than he ever did in the previous 4 years of public school combined. Spencer needs Journeys more than I can ever say, and I cannot thank them enough for the help they have given my son. The thing that makes me the happiest is this academy will give him the tools and guidance he needs so he can have a fair shot at society as he develops into the great young man I know he will be because of Journeys.

Alan J. Ward, MSgt, USAF



To Whom it may concern:

     My son is a 14-year-old who has Asperger's and was diagnosed when he was in the first grade. We have been in two public schools and a private school. We have had many struggles and challenges over the course of all these years. We had problems with the kids as well as some of the teachers who did not understand how to handle a child with ASD. Kids were extremely mean and bullied him and when I would go to the assistant principal or principal for help I felt the kids who were bullying him were treated more fairly than my child because he was different. We basically lived a nightmare every day waiting for the phone calls to tell me I needed to come get him or something else has happened. A lot of what was occurring was from people who just didn't know how to work with a child with ASD. I finally had to pull my son out of the public-school system because he was getting so much anxiety from the other kids that after an hour and a half of being at school, he would end up in the clinic throwing up. We then put him in a private school who said no problem, we have had kids like this before and know exactly how to handle them. He was actually doing fairly well when I got the call the day before Christmas break telling me he would not be allowed to return after break and was given no reason for it.

    Here we were, just starting Christmas break where everyone was gone until after the new year and I had no one to call or any idea where my son would go to school. I knew by law he had to attend school, but my resources weren't there. I heard about Journeys Academy from my liaison with the UCF Card Foundation. I had called and left a message on their phone and when they returned from Christmas break, they immediately called me, and my son and I went to visit the school. I had no idea if we would be accepted or it would be the right fit for us. I sat down with Karissa and Mr. Doug when we went in. It was all so comforting. We talked about the school and they had lots of kids just like my son. They welcomed him into their school. I was so nervous about Shawn attending another school thinking okay how long before the phone calls start and where I would go from here if this doesn't work. It NEVER happened. My son actually enjoys school for the very first time because he can be himself, no one picks on him and he is actually learning and excelling. They also work with him on his social skills which is a plus and he has grown in every way possible. The bottom line is we are all at peace. No worrying when we drop him off. We know he is safe and in a great environment. He has grown and made friends. It takes a lot of special people to work with these kids on a day to day basis. Please don't let one unfortunate incident get in the way of all these children being given the chance to learn and grow. They can't do it in any other school system! there is nothing like Journeys Academy out there. I am only one parent out of many who thank the Lord every day that my child has been given the opportunity that everyone else has.


Donna K. Olson



To whom it may concern,

            Our story may be different from other letters that you will receive from parents at Journeys Academy. Currently, our daughter is not a student at the school, but we are anticipating her attending the school later this month.

            We unexpectedly found out that we would be moving to Florida a few months ago and were looking for the usual home, school, jobs, etc. for our move. To our surprise, we realized that our youngest daughter who is 11 years old would need another heart procedure. Our daughter was born with DiGeorge Syndrome and a complex heart malformation called Truncus Arteriosus. To date, she has had 3 open heart surgeries, 3 heart catherization’s which has required 4 stents, 2 angioplasties and more recently a Melody Valve Replacement. We have been given the “all clear” by her cardiologist only a few months prior, so this latest procedure was a big surprise and one that required her to be on hospital/home bound (home instruction) from the school district for close to 6 months.

            She is a child that is deemed a “slow learner” and one that excels being in a small group setting and works best with hands on type learning projects – with assistance at school. My husband and I both knew that her time in a traditional school setting would be limited and not feasible for her as she progressed through her middle/high school years, due to her many medical issues/absences, instances of bullying and her learning style, so these last few weeks we have been considering other options for her education. We had heard many positive things in regard to Journeys Academy’s approach to educating, their compassionate nature and their fundamental positive outlook for their student’s future. It has been such a relief to have found a school that we know will be a great “fit” for our daughter and are looking forward to being able to continue her education at Journeys Academy later this month.

Thank you for your time,

Lisa Mazzoni Haglund



To whom it may concern:

            My son, Matthew King, has attended Journeys since it was started. He has autism and is nonverbal. I started using McKay scholarship funding after a rather difficult kindergarten year in public schools, so he has not attended public school for eleven years. I am an occupational therapist. I spend a considerable portion of my career doing wheelchair assessments with children. Many times, this involved going to schools, especially to separately contained classrooms. I remember one time, going to a high school’s PMH class, and seeing the teacher’s aide in a corner of the room, working on a craft. When I asked what they were doing, they told me the kids were working on the craft. With “air quotes” around the word “working.” The students were not even at the same table. I think Matthew was about 5 then, and I was determined right there not to have him in that sort of environment.

            The best thing about Journeys, as opposed to a public school, is the level of personal attention he receives. His teachers have had him for years and know his issues well, working to collaborate with me to come up with solutions to some of his behavioral challenges. It is an extremely frightening prospect to send a nonverbal child to a large, impersonal school, with hundreds of other students, when they cannot tell you how their day went, whether there were problems, or what his triumphs that day were. At Journeys, I can drop Matthew off and spend time with his teachers and with Karissa and Doug, discussing Matthew’s latest obsession or behavior and problem-solving ways to best approach them.

            The other students at Journeys have obviously been trained to care for those in the school that cannot defend themselves. Matthew is one of only a very few nonverbal children attending there. There has not been one instance of bullying with Matthew. Rather, I see the other students greeting me respectfully when I bring him in, helping him to get to his classroom, and treating him with love and respect. I will never forget his eighth-grade graduation. Each student was announced individually, and since his school is so small, there was a short speech about each student’s interests, hobbies, and achievements to be read as the processed in. There were lots of cheers for each student, but when Matthew’s name was announced, the place erupted! You couldn’t hear his bio, it was that loud. It was overwhelming to hear, and really drove him to me how much every student, as well as the teachers, at Journeys loves Matthew and cares for him. Would I have that at a school with hundreds or thousands of students? I do not think so.

            I hope this letter conveyed to you what an impact this school has had in the life of my son. I beg you to allow the school to remain open. There are no other private schools I know of that will take Matthew. If Journeys closes, he will be at Eau Gallie High School with two thousand other students, and he will be lost there. Please, keep this valuable asset to the community open so that they can continue to serve Matthew and others like him.


Alice King


9065 Ellis Rd. Melbourne, Fl   32935  

Office (321) 241-4940 // Cell (321) 480-2555

E-mail: Karissa Tolliver, Administrator: karissat@me.com

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