By Tamas Mondovics

With the renovation of an existing building finished just in time for the 2013-2014 school year, Pepin Academies, a K-12 tuition-free charter school for boys and girls with learning disabilities, has opened the doors to its Riverview campus last month.

Pepin Academies started in 1999 at the corner of Hillsborough Ave. and 40th St. in Tampa, offering quality education to children and young adults with learning disabilities such as ADHD, autism and Asperger’s syndrome, a variety of sensory deficiencies, and to help students grow in confidence and success.

The school has flourished over the years, currently boasting well-over 500 students and becoming nationally recognized as a one-of-a-kind entity.

While providing 19 jobs, the new school, now located at 10522 Lake St. Charles Blvd., is promising to serve up to 135 students from third grade through seventh grade with more grade levels to be added in coming years.

A special media and VIP event only days before opening day on August 20, welcomed a number local officials including Representative Jake Raburn, Riverview Honorary Mayor Elijah Heath, Congressman Dennis Ross, Representative Ross Spano, County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan, County Commissioner Al Higginbotham and County Commissioner Sandy Murman.

Former pro-hockey player and now Pepin Academies Principal, Dr. Craig Butz, took advantage of the chance to showcase the new campus to all in attendance.

“It’s a big honor for me to lead such a dynamic brand that is Pepin Academies,” Butz said.  “The new Riverview campus is a wonderful addition to the county’s portfolio of schools, and I know our faculty and staff there will carry on Pepin Academies’ legacy that has been synonymous with special education excellence for fifteen years now.”

Pepin Academies founder and renowned community philanthropist, Tom Pepin, added his thoughts with an explanation as to the reason for the school expansion, which he said was by no means a recent idea.

“We’ve wanted to expand the Pepin Academies brand to the Riverview area for years, as it’s an area highly underserved for the type of education we offer,” Pepin said. For more information about the school, please visit or call 236-1755.


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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.