Bernadette and Chris Pello are Riverview residents and the founders of Livingstone Academy. Since Livingstone Academy has been a huge success for families with special needs children, the Pellos wanted to branch out and offer options to young adults who may not pick college as a career path.
“We wanted to create Florida Trade Academy (FTA) because we recognized the tremendous need in our community for a career path for young adults, especially for those that may not want to attend college or a university,” Bernadette said. “Because we have been involved in education for 30 years, it was a natural progression for us to launch FTA.”
Chris, an educator, community leader and school operations specialist, created FTA. For more than 35 years, he has been involved in education as a high school coach, athletic director, teacher and principal. Over the last 20 years, Chris has also successfully founded and operated four private schools in Hillsborough County, now serving over 400 students in grades K-12 with 85 employees.
He knew that if FTA was going to be successful, he needed to recruit some major players in the community. Chris tapped Chuck Burgess, a nonprofit CEO with many local contacts, and Jeffrey Stone, a successful businessman and entrepreneur, as co-founders. Together, they will be responsible for the daily operations of Florida Trade Academy.
“What makes FTA different is first and foremost, we are locally owned and operated,” Chris said. “We are a nonprofit, and we have assembled a team with over 100 combined years in education, nonprofit and business experience. Due to our sponsor, Associated Builders and Contractors, we have access to over 450 member companies that will be looking to employ our students. We have a tremendous amount of employment opportunities for our students.”
Classes begin in September.
“Our hopes for FTA are that we can educate, train and place students in high-paying trade careers with little to no student debt,” said Chris. “We also plan to expand beyond the Tampa Bay region and hope to provide these options to students throughout the state of Florida.”
To learn more, visit www.floridatradeacademy.org.