Ian and Aileen Spence, who co-founded Ben Bronz Academy more than 30 years ago, were among those who attended the ribbon cutting for the new location.
By Ronni Newton
Ben Bronz Academy made a major move over the summer, relocating from the Boatner Building on the campus of the American School for the Deaf (ASD) to 11 Wampanoag Dr., and on Sept. 6 the entire school community, town leaders, and members of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce came together to celebrate with a ribbon cutting.
The new space, which was vacated when West Hartford Public Schools moved its STRIVE program to the ASD campus (into a different building, not the one Ben Bronz had previously occupied), has much more classroom space and will also afford the school the opportunity to partner with Northwest Catholic High School for use of its facilities, including athletic fields, gym, and food services.
Moving over the summer, while programs were underway, was “a labor of love,” administrators said.
There are 45 students who attend Ben Bronz Academy, which is a private day school licensed by the state that provides special education. Students range from grade 1-12, and some occasionally remain past high school age. “They are children who have significant learning disabilities,” said Board Vice Chair Barbara Brown. The students need more individualized attention than they could get in other settings, she said.
Ian and Aileen Spence, who are now retired, traveled from New York to celebrate the move of the school that they founded as The Learning Incentive in 1985. It was later renamed for Aileen Spence’s father, Ben Bronz, They started with five students.
The style of learning at Ben Bronz is specialized and process-driven instruction through “Instrumental Enrichment,” Ian Spence said. “The kids learn how to think.”
“Our first ribbon cutting was in 1985 , with Mayor Kevin Sullivan,” Ian Spence said. “We had five students and one mediator, and the rest is history.”
“This is absolutely fantastic,” Ian Spence said of the move. “The sky’s the limit now, and it will be so good for the kids and their parents. I couldn’t have had a nicer dream.”
“I’m so grateful for your vision in 1985 to let so many students achieve their dream,” Mayor Shari Cantor said at the celebration. “This is such a wonderful place, and we are so glad you are here in West Hartford.”
“We look forward to having a very long and successful run at this building,” Board Chair Tim Zeuschner said.
Executive Director Kim Holley read a proclamation from the governor, honoring the Ben Bronz Academy
In addition to the Ben Bronz Academy, the 11 Wampanoag Dr. location houses The Learning Incentive, a program run by the Ben Bronz Foundation, Inc. that supports children, teens, and adults, with or without a learning disability, who do not need a full day education program. The Learning Incentive offers summer programming, tutoring, study skills classes and classes for adults. The Learning Incentive has a newly-refurbished room in its own wing of the building to host its program.
For more information about Ben Bronz Foundation, Inc. and the Ben Bronz Academy and The Learning Incentive programs, visit www.benbronzfoundation.org, www.benbronzacademy.org, or www.learningincentive.org, or contact Executive Director Kim Holley at 860-236-5807 or [email protected].
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