Potential Development Perseveres Through Virus

YOUNGSTOWN – Virtual learning, pandemic disruptions and changes to the daily routines of children who thrive on patterns and consistency presented challenges in 2020 for Potential Development School for Students with Autism.

“Despite the curveball thrown to us last year, staff, students and their parents were surprisingly resilient,” says Executive Director Paul Garchar. “After some adjustments early on, we were able to carry on with our mission of educating our students.”

Enrollment held steady at nearly 200 students from pre-K to high school, with three-quarters attending class in person. A dozen students graduated last year and 11 more are set to do so this year.

“Special needs children in particular need that in-person learning experience. It’s difficult to replicate that environment online,” Garchar says. “Our parents have been patient and our staff has been exceptional in working within a new dynamic for everyone and doing everything they can to keep our students safe.”

Potential Development created the chief operating officer position in 2020, appointing Melissa Jupp to fill the role. The school employs 111.