Pepin Press: Media Resources

An Overview of Pepin Academies

About Pepin Academies

Our Story, Mission & Vision

Executive Director's Message

Overview of Pepin Academies

 

Pepin Academies are Florida-based, not-for-profit, independent, public charter day schools that were first incorporated on April 20, 1999, in Tampa, Florida. Pepin Academies operates full-time exceptional student education (“ESE”) centers specifically designed for students with learning and learning-related disabilities in grades 3-12 and a Transition Program for students 18-22 years of age. All students enrolled in our school must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Our mission is “[t]o empower students with learning disabilities to maximize their potential in a positive therapeutic educational environment. Our vision is “[t]o prepare students to meet the academic, social and emotional challenges encountered in everyday life and prepare them for a successful transition to middle, high school and post-secondary.”

The students served at the Pepin Academies have varied documented disorders, syndromes, diseases, or other medical conditions that severely impact their learning. Our focus on the unique learning abilities of the student results in a broad representation of cognitive levels as well as diverse, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds in our students. We currently have campuses in Tampa, Riverview, New Port Richey, and Wesley Chapel (coming 2024). As communities grow, often too does the need to provide specialized services and education to meet each student’s unique needs.

To meet the unique needs of our students, we utilize a therapeutic educational model, which focuses on the whole child and combines standard Florida curriculum, delivered by teachers who are dually certified in their content area and ESE, with a panoply of therapeutic interventions. Additionally, the schools offer extracurricular opportunities including student government, athletics, clubs, and culinary and performing arts. Pepin Academies holds several factors as absolutes to evince the success of our model. Our smaller class sizes, with approximately a 15:1 student:teacher ratio ensure all our students are given the attention they deserve to overcome their unique challenges. In addition to the dually certified core content teachers, we employ high-quality paraprofessionals in all elementary and access point classrooms, further reducing the classroom student:staff ratio. We employ educational support staff typical to most traditional schools, including, but not limited to: the principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor, elective teachers, support and secretarial staff, safety officer, and media specialist. A major aspect that makes Pepin Academies unique and is a primary defining point of our therapeutic educational environment, is the staffing of Mental Health Counselors, Social Workers, Speech and Language Pathologists, an Occupational Therapist, ESE Specialists, and a registered Nurse on all campuses. Our counselors/therapists perform services both in classrooms and pull students out of class for individual and group sessions.

It is our belief Pepin Academies’ students can attain the highest of academic standards if given a chance to demonstrate their knowledge in an appropriate setting with necessary supports in place. The faculty and staff at Pepin Academies provide students with an enriching, challenging, and nurturing learning environment, one where we design instruction for students to meet their needs as well as the goals and objectives in their IEP. Our modified academic calendar provides more frequent breaks throughout the year while reducing the potential impacts of summer learning loss.

Pepin Academies follow the pedagogical framework of the Brain Targeted Teaching Model (Hardiman, 2012), which applies both educational and cognitive neuroscience principles to classroom instruction. We also utilize the Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures program to promote cooperation and communication and build self-esteem and intrinsic motivation in our students. The curriculum used in the schools is scientifically research-based, rooted in student performance data, meets all state and district standards and objectives, and when available, is designed for students with disabilities.

Instructional personnel accommodates the curriculum through multimodal support to meet the specific needs of our students. Pepin Academies has recently been able to implement a 1:1/student: device

environment, eliminating any technological barrier to learning our students may experience, while
maximizing the assistive technologies available to meet each student’s accommodation needs. Furthermore, Pepin Academies has made a commitment to physical education and the culinary and performing arts by offering coursework in these critical areas. All schools feature a Sensory Learning Room designed to help meet the needs of sensory-sensitive students. Pepin Academies follows a Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBiS) framework for maximizing the culture and environment of a school to improve educational outcomes for students. The focus is on teaching and positively reinforcing appropriate and expected behaviors around respect, responsibility, and integrity/safety.

We utilize of a differential diagnostic learning assessment that also includes instructional resources (e.g., specialized lessons) to support student growth (currently iReady). This part of our model allows us to identify where our students are and refine accommodations to help them succeed at higher levels. At Pepin Academies, we also place added value on learning strategies courses and make them required for all students with content and topics varied by grade level and student functioning. Although many students come to Pepin Academies after being academically unsuccessful in a previous school, we do not believe it is simply enough to ensure students graduate. Rather, we believe we must make sure students have opportunities for growth and to become productive members of society upon leaving our schools. Therefore, we have made a concerted effort to implement new career-focused courses in high school and have advanced our Transition Program. These programs will introduce students to career path exploration and opportunities across a variety of workforce fields thanks to strong community partners.

Pepin Academies corporation is accredited by Cognia and overseen by the Pepin Academies Collaborative Group. Formed in 2021, this group serves to ensure our model is delivered with consistency and fidelity, assisting all campuses, current and future, in their operational needs, creating consistency across campuses, while allowing for the creativity and innovation that maximizes possible services and student potential.

We have forged strong, collaborative working relationships with our local districts and communities in serving the needs of its students and have been recognized as a leader in the Florida charter school community for learning-disabled students. Supporting our ability to open and operate a high-quality school in Wesley Chapel, Kirkland Ranch area, in 2021 we were verified, by the Florida Department of Education Commissioner, as meeting the requirements of section 1008.3415(3), Florida Statutes. This statute states that a charter school that is an exceptional student education center and that receives two consecutive ratings of “maintaining” or higher may replicate its educational program under s. 1002.331(3) with considerations similar to high-performing designations. We were the first schools verified under this statute and have received maintaining ratings in both counties we serve consistently over the past 5 years.

– Hardiman, M. (2012). The brain-targeted teaching model for 21st-century schools. Corwin Press. – Barringer, M.D., Orfalea, P., Pohlman, C., Robinson, M. (2020) Schools for All Kinds of Minds: Boosting Student Success by Embracing Learning Variation. Tantor Media Inc.

Pepin Acadmies Transition Program Students

New Port Richey Campus

Pepin Academies' New Port Richey campus serves over 300 students in grades 3-12.  Find information on family resources, a transition program, our athletics & arts programs, as well as various clubs for students with learning disabilities in New Port Richey by clicking the button below.

Riverview Campus

Pepin Academies' Riverview campus currently serves over 400 students in grades 3-12. Discover information on valuable family resources, a transition program, an athletics program, an arts program, and various clubs on our Riverview campus by clicking the button below.

Tampa Campus

Pepin Academies' Tampa campus, our first campus, currently serves 350 students in grades 3-12. Explore comprehensive family resources, a transition program, an athletics program, an arts program, and various clubs and extra-curricular for students with learning disabilities in Tampa.

Wesley Chapel Campus

A new Wesley Chapel campus is projected to open in July 2025 for the 2025-2026 school year.  The school will be located near the Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation and plans to open with grades 3-6 and expand to grades 3-12 over the next 5 years (subject to change).