New Horizons Academy in Wauseon has added a new location, and Executive Director Matt Rychener credits the opportunity for expansion entirely to God.
On Sept. 9, the first day of school will begin at New Horizons Academy – Springfield, a similarly-sized facility located at 6201 Trust Drive in Holland, Ohio. Focusing on students from preschool to second grade and from vocational junior high to age 21, the school hopes to serve at least 20 special needs students throughout the greater Toledo area whose parents found the trip to Wauseon’s location incompatible with their schedules.
Once housing the Dana Research Center, the new Lucas County facility is located near the Springfield, Anthony Wayne, and Maumee school districts and comes with available classrooms and a training center.
The northwest Ohio community will be welcomed at an open house Sept. 9 at 6 p.m., when guests can tour the building and meet staff members and teachers.
“The opening of the Springfield campus has been a long, prayerful process,” Rychener said. “After the opportunity for the new school was brought to us, and the needs of so many specials needs kids was made known to us, we prayed over this decision to make sure it was the right one for Sara’s Garden and New Horizons Academy.”
The new location will include bedroom and laundry labs in which students can practice life and work skills, and a sensory walk to integrate their needs into the school day. The academy is currently fundraising to build a multi-sensory playground at the new site, allowing the students an outside recreation area.
As with the original site, a service of Sara’s Garden, the new location offers comprehensive early childhood intervention services, autism intervention, occupational therapy, sensory integration, speech-language/pathology, after school programming, and summer camps. Presently, the new location won’t provide hyperbaric oxygen therapy, conductive education or home-based therapy services.
Rychener said the new site will focus on special needs early intervention students “because that is one of the big focuses in the Lucas County needs assessments – to get preschoolers ready to begin kindergarten. There just are not enough preschool openings, especially for students with disabilities…We want to get our kiddoes the services and the help they need as soon as possible, so they can begin kindergarten ready to learn.”
He said the second focus group – students from junior high to young adult – require additional assistance to learn life and work skills so they can adapt to independent living. He said the academy’s vocationally transition program known as PACE will use related curriculum, in-house vocational activities, and job coaches to prepare students for community life beyond school.
“Our goal for our special needs kids is to be as independent as each one can possibly be,” Rychener said. “Through our heartfelt prayers, we realized that God had a plan for our Springfield campus. He paved the way, so we could serve his special needs kids.”
Like its Wauseon counterpart, the Springfield location will keep classrooms at a one-to-two staff/student ratio.
Rychener said over the years Toledo-area parents and school officials have expressed interest in the Wauseon location but couldn’t manage to provide viable transportation at that distance. He said the Springfield campus makes the special education accessible.
“We couldn’t have found a more perfect school building or location. Again, God had a plan for our Springfield campus,” he said.
Whether New Horizons Academy opens other locations in the future is in God’s hands, Rychener said.
“We have intentionally looked for God’s plan and will continue to do so. We will continue to listen for his calling,” he said.