IATB School History
Invictus Academy Tampa Bay started as a dream. As an occupational therapist working with school-aged children in the Tampa Bay area, I quickly learned that many of my clients were not provided with the support they needed in a typical educational setting. They needed a more individualized approach that included building solid relationships with teachers and peers and a flexible approach to academics. Many of these students had motor and sensory differences that made it difficult for them to communicate and move their bodies in order to do the things they wanted to do, including academics and other school activities.
Invictus Academy was born and started with a total of 6 students working out of my clinic each day. We focused on developing strong relationships, delivering individualized curriculum based on the students’ needs, and ensuring that families were supported also. We quickly grew to be large enough that we needed to move locations as we were bursting at the seams! We relocated to a small church in Tarpon Springs which gave us room to breathe and continue to develop our curriculum and provide an environment for our students to grow and reach their goals.
We grew from two classes to four classes and started to build our high school curriculum. Around that same time, I also was introduced to Spelling to Communicate (S2C) a form of assistive technology that supports individuals with motor and sensory differences, including autism. S2C teaches the student purposeful motor skills in order to point to letters to spell as a reliable form of communication. As the motor skills improve, individuals move from pointing to letters on a letter board to spelling on a keyboard. Communication also moves from more concrete to abstract as their motor skills improve. S2C changed many things about our school. Building relationships was still of high importance, but our focus was now on supporting purposeful motor skills and reliable communication. Most importantly, we started to presume competence it ALL of our students no matter what information we were told about their “cognitive abilities”. We soon found out that they knew MUCH more than they were able to tell us. As our school continued to learn more about our students and their needs, we worked hard to build their motor skills for not only communication but success in their day to day activities. We learned that they needed academically appropriate material in order to support their regulation. We also learned that they had specific goals for their future – college and beyond!
In January 2019 we officially became Invictus Academy Tampa Bay. Our students chose this name from a couple of options as it means “undefeated”, something that reflects their own lives and is meaningful to them. We also moved to our current location in Tarpon Springs, which has allowed us to once again breathe and support our students and teachers. Each day at Invictus Academy Tampa Bay, we want to provide our students with reliable communication, the highest level of education, and ways to support their sensory and motor systems.
We are looking forward to meeting you and your child soon!