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Dore Academy is now The John Crosland School

Dore Academy is now The John Crosland School

Charlotte’s first school solely for children with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorder has opened in its new home, with a new name honoring one of the region’s most respected philanthropists.

Dore Academy is now The John Crosland School, a name change announced today on the first day of school for 85 students at the new six-acre campus near Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. At a celebration highlighted by the unveiling of a sign with the new name, the K-12 school joined with the Charlotte community in honoring this latest contribution from the homebuilding pioneer and business and charitable giant.

“This is a great day for our school family, and for a Charlotte community devoted to all its children,” said Bob Selee, chairman of the board of The John Crosland School. “We have a new home and a new name. Coupled with our long-standing commitment to educating children with learning disabilities, we begin the school year with unparalleled excitement. We have Mr. Crosland to thank, first and foremost.”

John Crosland, Jr., whose multi-faceted Charlotte real estate company bears his family name, personally contributed more than $1 million to the school. Foundation For The Carolinas, which oversees the Crosland Foundation, helped bring the two parties together to make this gift possible.

Said Foundation Senior Vice President Holly Welch Stubbing: “John and his foundation have been working in the areas of learning differences, affordable housing and urban policy research for many years. He is lending his name and his legacy to this school at this time because he really believes at his core that this is who he is.”

The personal motivation behind this gift is powerful: Crosland had to overcome dyslexia from an early age, a learning disorder marked by difficulty reading and writing.

“I thought it important – really important – to help people with learning disabilities,” he said. “I have one. I know how difficult it was in the early days in school. I know it would mean a lot to students to go to a school like Dore Academy.”

Now it’s The John Crosland School – “Crosland” for short. Much more about the life of the independent college preparatory school for Grades K-12 is at

The ceremony announcing the name change included remarks by Bailey Patrick, a longtime friend of John Crosland and his family, who spoke on his behalf; Don Williams, board chairman of The Crosland Foundation; Senior Vice President Holly Welch Stubbing of Foundation For The Carolinas; Bob Selee, chairman of the school board and father of 11th grader Wesley Selee; and Associate Head of School Maria M. Leahy.

The second reason for celebration: The John Crosland School welcomed 85 students to the first day of school Monday in its new 58,000-square-foot home on Parkway Plaza Boulevard off Billy Graham Parkway. The brick building, once an office, is nearly four times bigger than the previous location on Providence Road. That will allow enrollment to eventually grow to 250 students – an increase of 194 percent. With a central location, proximity to fast-growing south Charlotte and the S.C. suburbs, easy highway access and more than 100 parking spaces, the new home will be more convenient for the Crosland School family present and future. Students this year come from 21 cities and eight counties in North and South Carolina.

The capital campaign to raise $5.9 million for the property and relocation continues, with $1.5 million needed to complete the first phase. Long-time civic and business leaders Hugh McColl Jr. and Dale Halton are honorary campaign chairs.

Since its founding by Mary Dore in 1978, the school has educated and nurtured more than 3,000 students challenged by learning disabilities and ADHD (attention deficit).

Associate Head of School Leahy said the new campus and building – renovated to offer the warmth of a school setting – will allow teachers and staff, with the support of families, to inspire children in new ways. “The opportunities that are part of this new chapter in the life of our school,” she said, “will be evident each day in the classrooms and throughout the campus.”

Among the highlights:

  • Additional areas exist to allow for physical education classes, after-school activities and the expansion of athletic teams beyond the previous offerings of basketball, golf and track. The property, lush with green space, backs up to county-owned Renaissance Park. The school hopes to take advantage of the park for after-school activities.
  • A cafeteria/multipurpose room will offer more space for larger group activities as well as for what has become a school hallmark: Study Hall, when students start their homework with teachers there to help.
  • The arts will rise to richer heights with the addition of a theater for drama and dance; a larger music room that can accommodate a full band/orchestra, choir and current ensembles. A larger art room will have a kiln, allowing students to work on sculptures.

“I can’t begin to express the anticipation our teachers and staff are feeling with these opportunities to expand our program in so many ways,” said Leahy. “The true beneficiaries will be our children.”

Board chairman Bob Selee and his wife, Ann Marie, can attest to that. Their oldest child, Wesley, 16, struggled in public school because of his special needs. He’d come home from school filled with stress and anxiety, unable to do his homework. “He was walking in circles around the island in the kitchen in frustration every night,” Selee said. Wesley’s life, and theirs, changed when they discovered Dore Academy when he was in fourth grade. The smaller classes, nurturing environment, pace of learning and teachers with a gift for communicating helped transform Wesley into a confident young man who loves going to school and is playing sports. He’s even mastered the art of doing homework, and is researching college options.

“The difference has been stunning,” Selee said. “He now has the self-confidence and self-esteem to be able to learn. The school has provided Wesley with an environment where he can truly learn, and a sense of belonging. It’s been a complete life-changer.”

About The John Crosland School

Since opening in 1978, the school has earned a distinction as one of the nation’s leaders in creating academic success among its constituency. Among its foundations: Individualized instruction, small classes (7-to-1 student/teacher ratio), emphasis on the arts, bi-monthly school assemblies built around character education and development, and a reading program that stresses a multisensory approach to teaching this most important of life skills.

The school helps ensure students with financial needs have access – 28 percent receive some level of financial help – and the principle on which the entire philosophy is built never changes: There is no limit to what a child can accomplish. More than 90 percent of the graduating seniors go on to attend two-and four-year college programs.

The John Crosland School is dually accredited by the Southern Association of Independent Schools and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. For admissions information or to visit the school, call (704) 365-5490. Or visit the new website at

About John Crosland

John Crosland Jr., 83, for years led the Charlotte-based real estate company that his father, John Crosland Sr., founded in 1937. He retired as chairman of Crosland Enterprises in 2007, a business he propelled into national prominence as a leader in real estate development.  He currently serves as Chairman Emeritus, and is recognized as the undisputed leader of homebuilding in North Carolina. The family name, and business, are synonymous with quality home-building and development – and with philanthropy. He and his wife, Judy, have one son, John Crosland, III.

A child of the Depression who learned at an early age to appreciate the value of a home, he founded Charlotte’s Habitat for Humanity chapter in 1983. As a child who had to overcome dyslexia, he has helped numerous students with learning disabilities at his alma maters, Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va., and Davidson College. Dealing now with Parkinson’s disease, as his father did before him, he contributes to Carolinas HealthCare System for research to find a cure. In 2000, he made a gift that established the Crosland Foundation at Foundation For The Carolinas.

The emphasis reflects Crosland’s lifelong passions: Helping children with learning disabilities, affordable housing, and urban policy research and education. To honor his father, he established the John Crosland Sr. Distinguished Professorship in Real Estate and Development at the UNC Charlotte Center for Real Estate.

The lesson he learned long ago, the one that helped him build a successful career and life of giving, is the one he hopes children at The John Crosland School will learn: “I would say to them, ‘Don’t be bothered by what other people will say about you. You can stand there and take pride in what you do. If you try hard enough, you can overcome anything. You’ve got tools now that will make it much easier, and it will make a big difference in your life if you get an education.’ ”


Kathy Rowan, 704.591.8945 or

Jennifer Nichols, 704.749.6712 or

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