northstar student in library

Richmond student collects 100-plus books for abilities library to inspire classmates

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond student is inspiring classmates by showing them what they can do despite daily challenges they may face.

Brennan, a middle school student at Richmond's Northstar Academy, donated the Discovering Abilities Library at the school.

Each book features a main character living with a disability.

Read more of the WTVR CBS 6 article here.


students at national disability employment awareness month event

Organization works to help those with disabilities join the workforce

It's National Disability Employment Awareness Month! There are so many living with a disability who are capable of working but unable to find a job. I got to meet with people from this amazing organization who are working to change that: Northstar Academy. 

View full WTVR CBS 6 video here.


Northstar Career Academy celebrated abilities at work to kick off National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month

Northstar Career Academy celebrated abilities at work to kick off National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month

Northstar Career Academy celebrated abilities at work to kick off National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month.
People with disabilities have barriers to finding competitive employment and today, we commemorated our students and alumni and their hard work, the businesses that create jobs for a diverse workforce and governmental practices that allow for young adults with disabilities overcome barriers and contribute to their communities.

View full Know Different article here.


northstar student dave working at einstein's bagels

Business Partner Spotlight: Einstein’s Bagels

In an ongoing effort to provide students with hands-on instruction and worksite experiences, Northstar Career Academy is fortunate to have established relationships with local businesses. Through these partnerships, students visit these work sites multiple times a week to practice the job specific work and social skills learned in the classroom.

northstar student dave working at einstein's bagels

Business Partner Spotlight: Einstein’s Bagels

Einstein’s Bagels is one of Northstar Career Academy’s esteemed business partners. For two years, they have hosted our Hospitality students for community work experiences. Through their work at Einstein’s, our students learn how to prepare different types of food, stock retail displays and collaborate with teammates. Because of this successful partnership, this past May, Einstein’s Bagels, hired one of our students, Dave G.! Dave is responsible for a clean and well-stocked coffee bar and retail space as well as providing warm and friendly customer service in the dining room. We sat down with Khalid Oliver, his manager at Einstein’s Bagels and Dave’s mother, Sallie Belsches, to discuss the experience.

Einstein’s Bagels consistently hires people with disabilities. Why has your company decided to do so?

Khalid: It presents a positive business model for us. It shows we are a family and we are a part of the community and we will hire anybody who has the skills to do the job. We want to hire people who want to work and who have the drive to do it.

Are there any changes to your management approach necessary with hiring people with disabilities?

K: It is not much different, as our training system and food prep books are very accommodating. It is very straight forward with picture diagrams. From there, it is repetition and quizzing. I will say that one difference is that I speak more directly to our employees with disabilities, but they always get the task done.

Have there been any unexpected outcomes to hiring people with disabilities?

K: I didn’t expect the customers would take so strongly to our employees with disabilities. The gentleman who retired from Dave’s current position had a physical disability. It never kept him from completing his responsibilities. The customers came to know and love him and a lot of the customers would come to the store just to see him. When they found out he had a walk from the bus stop, customers brought him ponchos and umbrellas. One customer even hand-carved him a walking cane. All this generosity inspired our staff to take a similar interest in our customers. It has built such a strong community connection.

How do you feel about your new hire, Dave?

K: His coursework on-site with Northstar Career Academy allowed him to showcase his work ethic and build a relationship with our staff, so it was an easy hire. Training has gone quickly with Dave. He has already learned how to complete his tasks accurately.

How do you feel about Dave’s new job?

Sallie: I’m amazed at how far he’s come in his life. He used to never share stories about his day, but once he started going to Career Academy, he would talk and talk about the working out in the community at different businesses. He was really proud of the work he did. I could see a big difference in him. He uses the strategies learned at Career Academy to stay on task and to be the most effective employee he can be.


northstar student adeline raquet working at Performance Food Group

Work is a joy for student at Henrico's Northstar Academy who has overcome barriers and challenges to earn a paycheck

Ask Adeline Raquet what she likes about her new job, and she replies without hesitation and without needing to mull over possible answers.

“I like it all,” she said.

When you’re 21 and you suffered a brain injury at birth as a result of being born 13 weeks prematurely, resulting in developmental delays, learning differences, anxiety and vision deficits, you are grateful for the opportunity to earn a paycheck. So it’s easy to understand why Raquet feels the way she does when people congratulate her on the new job.

Read more of the Richmond Times-Dispatch article here.


northstar student playing on playground

Check out this new adaptive playground that just opened in Henrico

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A new type of playground designed for children with special needs was unveiled Wednesday at Northstar Academy on Shrader Road in Henrico County.

The playground, which is open to everyone, has new swings, slides, rock climbing and all types of new equipment to help children learn.

Teachers said that will give the students a chance to interact socially with other children in the area.

Read the full article on WTVR here.