Meet the Ross Family of Fusion Academy
Every Fusion student gets to write their own story, and be their own kind of remarkable.
It is difficult to profile a “typical Fusion student,” because students at Fusion Academy defy generalization—from a professional athlete to a traveling artist to a kid who simply isn’t getting enough from their current school.
“At Fusion Academy we’re able to customize so that kids feel empowered and challenged,” Corina Jenkins, Director of Admissions and Outreach at Fusion Academy – Ardmore, tells us. With individualized, one-on-one learning, middle and high school students at Fusion can make their own schedules and learn in the way that is best for their particular needs and interests.
Dr. Wendy Ross—a developmental and behavioral pediatrician—first learned of Fusion Academy when searching for solutions for some of her patients who were non-traditional learners. As she saw her own son Ben struggling with executive functioning at school, Fusion became the right choice for him as well. “I needed him to be in a place where people could really understand him and teach the way he could learn,” Dr. Ross said.
At Ben’s previous schools, “sometimes he could perform as expected, and sometimes he couldn’t,” Dr. Ross described. “When that happened, they would sometimes blame him and say he wasn’t trying. But that was the exact nature of his disability.” Fusion has been a place to “undo the trauma,” and teach Ben in a way that works for him.
“As a parent and as a developmental pediatrician, I wanted my kid to feel capable of learning. I really liked the idea of him being somewhere one-on-one where people were focused on building on what he could do, instead of blaming him for what he could not do,” Dr. Ross explained.
Because Fusion’s instruction is one-on-one, they are able to tailor teaching to each student’s passions, strengths, and challenges. For example, Ben’s art teacher has been able to leverage his passion for art as a way to scaffold math skills. In stark contrast to his previous educational experiences, when Ben expressed concern about possibly frustrating a teacher by not grasping a concept, a teacher told him, “You don’t ever have to apologize for not understanding—that’s my job, to figure out how you learn and to teach you.”
Fusion’s individualized approach extends to parental input as well. Dr. Ross tells us, “At Fusion, when I come in to discuss Ben’s challenges, they’re better at listening and collaborating. They don’t just look at the behavior, they look at the function the behavior is serving. Not every school has the resources to do that, and not every school is willing to do that.”
While instruction is one-on-one, Fusion students socialize through various campus activities, including the daily Homework Café. For every hour Fusion students are in class, they have an hour of Homework Café, so they come home with no homework. For so many students who come to Fusion, they report homework being a major source of stress for them (and their families), so this not only helps reinforce learning shortly after class, but makes family time more peaceful. For the Ross family, this has been even more important, as Ben’s father Dr. Michael Ross has been in treatment for colon cancer. With the pressure of homework eliminated, “it’s improved our whole family dynamic.”
The Rosses are a remarkable family. Jenkins recalls meeting Dr. Wendy Ross in jeans and a Wonder Woman t-shirt years ago, and how appropriate that turned out to be. Our very own readers voted them as recipients of a 2019 “Parents of the Year” LOVE Award. But theirs is just one story, and every Fusion student gets to write their own, and be their own kind of remarkable. “Our students break the mold,” Jenkins says. “They are constantly raising the bar.”
Fusion Academy has locations in Ardmore, Malvern, and Cherry Hill. Tours are available by appointment.
Photographs by Ivory Tree Portraits.