Jimmy Arispe is the Founder and Chief Kid Influencer of The Academy Way network of schools, which includes The Academy Virtual, The Academy campus locations, and Support Dyslexic Children, Inc. (a federally recognized 501c3 charitable non-profit).
Jimmy believes schools should be exciting, motivating and fun places for kids to learn. He hires teachers who love kids and shares in his philosophy about schools and kids. His schools embrace movement, discussion, and kids being comfortable while learning. He continuously reminds and encourages his “kids” to “never ever give up” and to “be great at being YOU.”
As a child, Jimmy displayed all of the typical ADD behaviors in school. He got in trouble often for not sitting still, talking, and not paying attention. He struggled with comprehending and retaining anything he read, and still does as an adult. While growing up in a military family, Jimmy believes he wasn’t able to be officially diagnosed with any specific disability because of the inconsistency with his schooling as he attended the same elementary or junior high school for only 1-2 years at a time. He and his parents were told by many of his teachers and counselors that he was “not working to his potential” and that he was easily distracted and distracting to others.
Jimmy started his educational career as a public school elementary teacher in 1994 in metro Atlanta where he excelled at teaching Math interactively. However, later in his teaching career he also learned to teach children how to read. In his opinion, there is no more rewarding task than teaching a child how to read.
Despite becoming the adult leader of his own students and classroom, Jimmy’s ADHD behaviors remained a part of him. He describes his classrooms as “inspirational organized chaos!”
Beginning in 1999, he served in his first leadership role as a middle school assistant principal in Georgia, then served in various building and district leadership positions in traditional and public charter schools from North Carolina to Arizona. Despite these leadership positions, his ADD behaviors remained with him and he continued to experience the related challenges that came with them. Additionally, he experienced unrelated challenges that came from working with leaders who had traditional mind-sets and would rather follow policies instead of doing what was right for kids.
In 2006, Jimmy created the National Coalition for Exemplary Schools. This organization provided instructional and leadership services to struggling schools and districts across the nation. This included working with and supporting some of the most impoverished areas in the U.S., including many Indian reservations. The Coalition also created and conducted Student Leadership Conferences, which brought thousands of minority and disadvantaged 5th grade, middle and high school students onto college campuses across the country to expose them to and plant the seeds of college attendance in their minds.
In 2011, Jimmy began mobilizing hundreds of community volunteers to create a charter school in metro Atlanta. After 2 1/2 years of effort, the school was not approved by the county school district or the state and he converted the school to an affordable, project-based private school. The SAE School opened its doors with 118 students in 2013 and is now in its 8th year of operations in 2021. Jimmy’s son Jake began his 3rd grade year at the school and attended it for 6 years. Jimmy proudly served as the CEO/Head of Schools from 2013 to June 2020.
In 2020, Jimmy began his next educational endeavor to help kids- The Academy. He realized this school would be for children with dyslexia, reading challenges, ADHD, and those who struggled in traditional school environments. He created a 501c3 federally recognized non-profit (Support Dyslexic Children, Inc.) to solicit and accept donations from people and businesses to reduce the tuition costs so that low-income families could have their child(ren) attend an Academy campus.
Unfortunately, Jimmy’s initial hope of launching the first Academy location in Georgia for the beginning of the 2020 school year was impacted by the pandemic and he was not able to recruit enough students to get the school off to a successful start.
Despite this setback, Jimmy converted The Academy model to a fully virtual version and started serving kids in October 2020. Now, The Academy serves students from Australia to California. In November, 2020 he began setting the wheels in motion to launch brick and mortar Academy locations in various states for the 2021-2022 school year. Jimmy’s hope is to serve as many kids as possible through Academy campus locations across the United States and with the help from the amazing teachers he has been able to identify along the way.