Crews broke ground for construction of an 8,500-square-foot school for The Victory Center, a non-profit group that educates children in Miami-Dade and Broward counties with autism and related disabilities.
Expected to open in 2018, the new school in North Miami Beach will have a 60-student capacity, doubling the current capacity of the 17-year-old Victory Center.
Since its startup, The Victory Center has operated from several rooms on the campus of the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center at 18900 Northeast 25 Avenue in North Miami Beach.
The center is building the new school jointly with the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center on its campus.
Barry and Judi Nelson founded the nonprofit Victory Center in 2000. They are parents of a child with autism who found themselves frustrated by the lack of appropriate educational opportunities.
The Nelsons eventually found one effective approach called applied behavior analysis, which involves a high ratio of teachers to students.
With encouragement from Dr. Michael Alessandri, executive director of the University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities, the Nelsons launched The Victory Center 17 years ago with just four students.
The center in North Miami Beach now operates at capacity with 30 full-time students ranging in age from 3 to 22.