Center Academy began in 1968 with the vision of its founder, Dr. Mack Hicks, Seeing the need for a specialized, full-day school for students who were falling through the cracks in traditional schools, Dr. Hicks established one of the first schools in the United States to focus on the needs of students with Attention Deficit Disorder and other neuropsychological processing difficulties.
With a team of professionals in the fields of neuro-psychology, education, and individualized remediation, Center Academy opened its first classrooms in the Science Center in St. Petersburg, Florida. The school focused on remediating learning disabilities and providing a small, focused, and positive learning environment for students who had experienced academic frustration, and for whom tutoring and other part-time programs were not successful.
In 1974, Center Academy opened a campus in London, England in response to requests by parents and professionals. In the US, the St. Petersburg Center Academy moved to larger sites as the school expanded to meet the needs of more students. It moved to its permanent location in Pinellas Park, FL in 1974, finding a peaceful, 10-acre setting with horses and room to grow. In 1976, Center Academy established a campus in Tampa, FL.
Initially, Center Academy worked with elementary students who were struggling with large schools, ineffective teaching methods, or one-size-fits-all approaches to learning. Over the years, the scope of Center Academy expanded to include other students, and in 1984, Center Academy began its high school program. The Pinellas Park and Tampa schools celebrated their first graduating class in 1987.
In 1988, Center Academy was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to develop and research the effectiveness of individualized remedial programs for students with a wide range of learning disabilities. While developing these programs, Center Academy provided free evaluations and remediation to over 200 students under the NIMH grant.
As Center Academy has expanded to locations around Florida, it has stayed true to its mission and kept its focus on addressing the unique needs of each student. Center Academy now has 10 schools in Florida. Its newest school in Orlando, FL, opened in August of 2021.