About Career Services

Our Mission

At Northstar Academy, we promote educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical or social challenges. We present our community of learners with a challenging educational environment, to inspire confidence and encourage taking intellectual risks and meeting academic challenges with openness, enthusiasm, a willingness to solve problems and to make thoughtful decisions. Ultimately, we create an atmosphere that addresses the unique needs of young people with disabilities in a changing society and culminates with their becoming active citizens and responsible stewards of our world.

Our Vision 

Northstar Academy empowers students to value their diverse abilities, chart a successful course for their lives, and create their own futures. We cultivate communities where people of all abilities thrive.

Brief History

1995 – Northstar Academy was founded. It is Central Virginia’s premier nonprofit and independent school for K-12 students (ages 5-22) with one or more of 12 of the 13 disabilities as recognized by IDEA.  

2014 – Due to the nationwide low graduation and employment rate for youth with disabilities Northstar Career Academy was founded.  Our Career Academy aims to help students develop the self-determination and self-advocacy skills necessary for achieving independent living, employment and/or post-secondary education. Our students may pursue career preparation in one of five programs: Business Technology, Construction and Maintenance, Veterinary Assisting, Hospitality, and Materials Handling. 

2018 – Northstar added privately funded employment services for a limited number of Northstar Career Academy graduates. Northstar provides job development and supported employment services privately to clients making progress and/or successfully exited Career Preparation Programs. 

2021 – Northstar Career Services began offering job development services and supported employment services both privately and in partnership with the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitation to clients making progress in and/or graduates of Northstar Career Academy Programs.

Informed Choice and Consent

Informed choice is a critical aspect of self-determination, the principal on which our organization is founded. Our employment services are available to select clients by invitation if we feel that we are well-equipped to meet their employment needs. However, we fully endorse the concept of informed choice for these candidates. Any candidate for employment services receives information about the concept of informed choice, a list of other employment service organizations in the area, and encouragement to explore all options before selecting a partner for employment services. This process is conducted while in communication with DARS counselors in the interest of transparency and due diligence. 

Likewise, in order for our clients to engage in self-determination, they must receive services only after having the opportunity to provide informed consent. Their understanding, engagement, and decision-making are guiding forces for their success. 

Client Rights

  1. You have the right to participate in the development and implementation of your service plan and to make decisions about your plan. 
  2. You have the right to receive services without discrimination based on your race, color, religion, sexual orientation or national and ethnic origin. 
  3. You have the right to receive services in a manner that is free from abuse, exploitation, and harassment and in a way that promotes your safety and privacy. 
  4. You have the right to receive services with dignity in a manner that respects your cultural, spiritual, and social values. 
  5. You have the right to express complaints or grievances concerning the quality of services without fear of discrimination or reprisal and to receive a prompt and courteous response. 
  6. You have the right to personal privacy, including the confidentiality of your records. You have the right to access information in your records within a reasonable amount of time following your request. 
  7. You have the right to be informed of your rights and to have questions about your rights answered in a reliable and understandable manner. 

If you believe that your rights have not been honored, you may call or write: 

Crystal Trent
Head of School
8055 Shrader Rd.
Richmond, VA 23294


Holly Peele
Northstar Career Academy
8155A Staples Mill Rd.
Henrico, VA 23228