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Intensive Education Academy in West Hartford Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Executive Director Jeff Forman, Upper School Director of Education Deven Constant, and Lower School Director of Education Danielle Clermont on IEA's 50th first day of school. Courtesy photo

IEA celebrated its 50th first day of school this September.


Sunday, Sept. 19 marked the Intensive Education Academy’s 50th anniversary. Founded by Sister Helen Dowd and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery in 1971, IEA has spent the past 50 years supporting special education students and helping them reach their full potential. Known as “a school built on love,” IEA is known for providing personalized education in a nurturing environment for students whose needs cannot be met in the public school system.

Over the last several decades, the nurturing environment has undergone some changes itself. Starting in the basement of the convent, the school quickly grew to its current campus on North Main Street. Further expansions over the years added on a number of classrooms and an auditorium, and more recently an outdoor education area. The school continues to grow with the very students it serves. Rigorous academics, combined with supportive related services in a low sensory environment, and ample exposure to the arts and opportunities to build social skills, leads to an environment that can provide remarkable growth opportunities for students who experience anxiety, autism or learning differences.

IEA expects the 2021-2022 school year to be one of substantial growth. The school is excited to welcome Danielle Clermont and Deven Constant, Directors of Education for the lower and upper schools respectively. “I couldn’t be happier with our new leadership team,” says Executive Director Jeffrey Forman. “They are strong leaders with a vibrancy that will truly bring depth to our programs. The last two years have been challenging with the pandemic, but we have such a strong team of faculty and staff; IEA couldn’t be in a better position than we are this year. It is a wonderful way to enter our 50th year.”

Clermont joins IEA from New York where she was a special education teacher in the Bronx and Queens for the past 10 years and has held a variety of leadership roles inside and outside of her school communities. Constant comes to IEA from a leadership role with Bloomfield Public Schools. Both directors bring a passion for special education and a wealth of knowledge to support IEA’s expanding programs. The school year will see substantial additions to the reading program as well as the school’s Transition Education Academy (TEA).

TEA has already undergone substantial redevelopment. The program has expanded into two pathways: one for students looking to further their vocational skill development and another for students who would like to continue on to two- or four-year colleges that need additional support. The college pathway was added to the program for 18- to 22-year-old students looking to build transition skills, while attending Tunxis Community College. The partnership between the two schools allows students to build success and confidence in a collegiate atmosphere, while continuing to receive support from IEA’s school community and related services team, further developing their vocational and independent living skills.

It is by adapting to meet the needs of students and the community that IEA continues to have such success as a nonprofit, state approved special education facility. The adaptability of the programs and the staff ensures that the students who attend IEA are able to transcend boundaries and realize their hopes and dreams. It was the dream of Sister Helen Dowd fifty years ago that first gave the school its start, and it is the dreams of its students today that continue to light the way.

To learn more about IEA please visit: www.ie-academy.org.

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