Turning Frustration into Opportunity
Kristine Erice has never been afraid of a challenge. Raising her now 15 year old son who was diagnosed with Autism at age 2 has definitely had its share of challenges, but the greatest challenge she felt came with realizing the lack of educational options for her son and others just like him, living on the Treasure Coast.
She turned frustration into opportunity in 2020 by opening the only private school in St. Lucie County that catered to teaching children just like her son, children who needed more support and would likely fall through the cracks in a typical school setting.
The school, Exceptional Academy for Differently-Abled Learners, opened its doors in January 2020 after much struggle in finding a location that was suitable for a private school. Located in St. Lucie West, the school welcomed fifteen students to begin classes, but, with a growing waitlist the moment she opened her doors, Kristine knew she had to do more.
In March 2020, COVID came and crushed the fundraising goals that Kristine set to expand her school to be able to serve more students. She kept plugging on, knowing that the right opportunity would come along when it was supposed to.
Fast forward a few months, Kristine had a chance meeting with local commercial real estate broker and developer, Jeremiah Baron. The two talked and shared stories about their own personal experiences with their Autistic children, which led to an opportunity. Baron offered to help Kristine expand her school and take it to the next level by helping fund the build-out of one of his existing buildings, allowing the school to serve three times the number of students being taught at its old school location. It was like a dream come true and the two quickly started working on the school’s expansion.
After months of COVID related setbacks and delays, the build-out of the newly renamed and renovated school, Baron Academy, is finally complete. They are currently enrolling and set to serve up to 75 K-8 grade students in the 7000 sq. foot building in Port St. Lucie for the 2022-2023 school year beginning in August. Baron Academy will provide the same customized education that Kristine set out to provide with her original concept at Exceptional Academy, but will now be able to reach so many more students who need a more tailored and personalized education.
The Baron Academy Ribbon Cutting and Open House will be held on Saturday, August 6th at 10am at the new school location at 8557 Commerce Centre Dr. in Port St. Lucie.