OPINION: Phoenix Academy’s Expansion and Education in North Carolina

Many of you know by now about the expansion planned by the High Point-based Phoenix Academy charter school, founded by my parents Kim & Paul Norcross in 1998 as a small school inside the St. Michael’s Lutheran Church on Skeet Club Rd, and later established as a full-blown charter school in 2001. This expansion includes a school of aerospace, which will be partnering with Timco, a Greensboro company that now serves as the largest MRO provider for commercial jets, and HondaJet, the aerospace division of the Japanese automaker Honda. It was reported earlier this week by my friend and colleague Gillum Ferguson, who is currently a writer for the inspirational online magazine, OpportunityLives. If you want to know more about the expansion, I strongly recommend you read his column, it not only tells you about the expansion, but it also tells you the story of how Phoenix was inspired by my story.

In case you didn’t know, I have Asperger’s Syndrome. It was mainly caused by epileptic seizures I had suffered as a child. In fact, a psychiatrist my parents were going to at the time said I was ‘mentally retarded’ and it ‘was a good thing’ I had a little sister to take care of me when they were dead. These condescending comments, as well as other factors, motivated my parents to start up Phoenix. The rest of the story of my life is too complex to talk about here, but I can tell you for a fact that I had to start all over again in terms of my educational career.

One of the methods that was used to get my brain back and working again was a system called Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), first developed by late UCLA professor Dr. Ivar Lovaas, who would continue to teach the method to his students before his death in 2010. Later on, a new method was used by Phoenix, Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). During her interview with Ferguson, my mother said people actually bought into PBIS for one simple reason, “because it works, and it’s never the exact same in each school; it allows teachers to assess their own flavor to it.” I couldn’t have said it better. I also believe it will help children become the next generation of people to revitalize a city that has been in decline for 15 years now. I am very confident that as Phoenix Academy grows, not only will it continue to help improve education in this country as it has since its founding, but it will also help future generations of children grow up into game changers in the world.

Things can only get better for education in this country, and I believe Phoenix Academy is continuing in that quest to keep that going, not just in North Carolina, but nationwide as well.

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