Our History

History of North Florida School of Special Education

North Florida School of Special Education opened its doors in 1992, brought to life by a group of parents who recognized the need for better educational opportunities

Students at our Hope Haven campus in 1993

for their four children with intellectual and developmental differences. These parents dreamt of a learning environment where children who traveled a different developmental path were embraced, educated, nurtured and equipped with the life skills to become contributing members of their community.

What began as a humble dream has gained tremendous momentum over the past 30 years. In 2004, North Florida School of Special Education relocated to the newly built Anderson Smith Campus on Mill Creek Road. Ten years later, in 2014, NFSSE became accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools (FCIS) and continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

In January 2020, NFSSE opened its new Christy and Lee Smith Lower School Campus, a 32,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art building that includes a gymnasium, cafe, industrial kitchen, auditorium, and more to better serve students and increase capacity. The Delores Barr Weaver Equestrian Center sits adjacent to the building and offers equine therapy for NFSSE students and children and adults with IDD in the greater Jacksonville community.

North Florida School of Special Education serves students with intellectual and developmental differences between the ages of 6-22, and also offers a Postgraduate program for young adults between the ages of 22-40. NFSSE adheres to a 1:6 Teacher to Student ratio, and offers six levels of instruction within eleven classrooms.