Dore Academy at its Gala April 30 unveiled plans for a move that will allow the independent college preparatory school to nearly triple the number of learning-disabled students it can serve.

Charlotte’s first school created solely to meet the needs of children with Learning Disabilities and/or Attention Deficit Disorder will be one of the Carolinas’ largest to serve that constituency when the move is completed by January 2012.

The Gala – dubbed An Evening of Heroes – welcomed 250 supporters to the Wells Fargo Atrium in uptown Charlotte for a dinner and silent and live auction capped by news of the move and expansion.

Dore is paying $2.5 million for a 58,000-square-foot building and six-acre property off Billy Graham Parkway near Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. Closing is scheduled for May 18. The brick office building, built in 1988, was owned by Ziff Properties in Charleston.

Exterior and interior renovations are slated to be phased in over the next three years, transforming the building and its acreage into a warm, inviting academic campus.

“We are thrilled beyond measure,” Head of School Roberta Smith said. “Since our founding in 1978, our faculty and staff have come to school each day dedicated to serving the needs of our extraordinary children and families. The move to a larger facility in a more central location will allow us to expand our offerings in so many areas, all focused on crafting an experience that transcends “school.”

Board Chair Karen Geiger, whose son attended Dore Academy, hopes the move will inspire friends of the school to meet and surpass the capital campaign goal of $5.90 million by December 2012.

“Knowing that our enrollment will be able to jump from 90 to 250, and that educational programs will expand, is so exciting to all of us who belong to the Dore family,” Geiger said. “Recognizing that contributions of all sizes have made possible the move to the new location will surely encourage greater giving to the capital campaign.”

Long-time civic and business leaders Hugh McColl Jr. and Dale Halton are honorary campaign chairs and committed supporters of Dore and its expansion project.

Bigger Facility, More Convenient Location

Dore currently occupies some 15,000 square feet on Providence Road in south Charlotte, a busy stretch that can sometimes make dropping off and picking up children a challenge. The school is limited to 90 children in the educational building.

The new facility will change all that: At 58,000 square feet, it can accommodate up to 250 students in Grades K-12 – an increase in enrollment of 175 percent.  Close to I-85, I-77 and the airport, and with 100-plus parking spaces and easy in and out access, the location will be more convenient for the widespread Dore family.

Currently, students come from 21 cities and eight counties in North and South Carolina, including Rock Hill, Gastonia and Mooresville. One family drives to and from Shelby each day.

Best of all, Head of School Smith explained, the move will allow Dore to expand its offerings while maintaining its core philosophy: Individualized instruction, small classes (a 7-to-1 student/teacher ratio), concentration in the arts, and a belief that there are no limits to what children can accomplish in life.


Among plans for the larger facility:

–        A gym will allow for physical education classes, after-school activities and the expansion of athletic teams beyond the current offerings of basketball, golf and track.  The property backs up to Renaissance Park, owned by the Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department.  Dore hopes to be able to take advantage of the park for after-school athletic activities.


–        A cafeteria/multipurpose room will provide more space for larger group activities as well as for what has become a hallmark of Dore: Eighth period, when students begin working on their homework with all teachers present and ready to help.


–        The arts, long a core part of the Dore brand and curriculum will rise to even greater heights:  The addition of a theater will allow for drama and dance.  A larger music room will accommodate a full band/orchestra and choir as well as current ensembles.  A larger art room equipped with a kiln will allow students to work on sculptures.

One thing that won’t change: Muffin, the cocker spaniel/dachshund mix who has been part of the Dore family for 12 years, will make the move to the new home, continuing to interact with students and sit contentedly as they read to her. The tradition of Muffin wearing a different outfit to school each day will also continue.

“Like the rest of us,” Smith said, smiling, “Muffin is going to love her new home.”

Hallmarks of Dore

Founded by Mary Dore in 1978, Dore Academy was the first school in Charlotte created solely for the needs of children with Learning Disabilities and/or Attention Deficit Disorder.  It is now considered one of the nation’s leading schools for creating academic success among this constituency, and has helped more than 2,500 students since opening its doors. The hope these families find at Dore replaces the discouragement so many felt in less personal school settings.

Among the foundations of a Dore education: Bi-monthly school assemblies built around character education and development. A reading program with a student/teacher ratio of three to one incorporates a multisensory approach to teaching students how to read.

Dore has a policy of not turning away students due to financial need – 28 percent of students’ families receive some level of financial help.

Dually accredited by the Southern Association of Independent Schools and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Dore is sending 83 percent of its 2011 graduating class to college. More information is available at

More than a school, Smith describes Dore as “a community of teachers, learners and creators.”


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