The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Crisha Scolaro as the 14th Lightning Community Hero of the year this morning at Pepin Academy of Tampa. Scolaro, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Pepin Academies.
Scolaro quit her corporate lifestyle in 1999 to start a school for children with learning disabilities. She founded Pepin Academies, initially a foundation that helped 17 high school-aged children with disabilities receive a proper education. Soon after she began the academy it quickly evolved into a tuition-free public charter school designed to educate children with specific learning disabilities from grades K-12. Current enrollment now stands at 450 students and in the program's history, no child has dropped out.
Scolaro, a mother of a child with Asperger's Syndrome, also created a transition program for 18 to 22-year-olds with a special diploma and provides job training and independent living skills. Her goal is to sustain an environment that continues to break the destructive cycle of helplessness by using innovative educational models.