Northstar Academy, Inc.
8055 Shrader Road
Henrico VA 23294
Mission Statement

At Northstar Academy, we promote educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical or social challenges. 

CEO/Executive Director Crystal Trent
Board Chair Mrs. Annie Witthoefft
Board Chair Company Affiliation Bank of America
Contact Information
Address 8055 Shrader Road
Henrico, VA 23294
Telephone 804 747-1003 1003
Fax 804 747-1116
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1998
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $3,581,565.00
Projected Expenses $3,049,935.00
Additional Documents


At Northstar Academy, we promote educational excellence and career opportunities for students with disabilities who have academic, physical or social challenges. 


At Northstar Academy, we believe every child should have the opportunity to experience an education that identifies each student’s strengths and approaches their differences as advantages. Traditional schools believe that students who think and learn differently need accommodations. At Northstar, however, we know that accommodations are not enough. We value every student as an individual by identifying each student’s strengths and capitalizing on their unique abilities, talents, and interests. We develop an understanding of their individual learning style. We believe that students should learn from teachers who identify the tangible ways by which their unique approach to learning will position them for the demands of our 21st century.

We believe that our students benefit from an approach that doesn’t define them by their challenges, but instead works to uncover their individual skills and inspire them to achieve their greatest potential. We believe our students will thrive in an environment where we, as educators, celebrate that their brains work differently and allow that difference to develop into a highly valued strength. Northstar believes every child is capable of accomplishing extraordinary things! Our curriculum is rich and rigorous and prepares our college and career-bound students for their futures. Our methods of instruction help students master this innovative and challenging curriculum and use the arts and self-expression to examine ways to overcome academic roadblocks. By using the arts as a gateway to learning and expression, we guide our students to think differently about themselves, and we help parents think differently about their child.

Financial Assistance & Admissions


Our area of greatest need is our unrestricted annual fund – operations. Gifts to our annual fund enable us to bridge the gap between the cost of tuition and the actual costs to educate a child. Simply said, gifts to our Annual Fund enable us to keep our doors open. Other needs include scholarship. Unfortunately, we are not able to meet all of the demonstrated financial need and additional scholarship support would enable students to attend Northstar who would otherwise be unable to do so. We offer financial assistance to our amazing faculty and encourage them to further their education. Donations to faculty professional development would enable them to learn current trends and strategies to better serve our students. As we focus on our Strategic Plan, we are looking to the future, A Capital Campaign would help us grow. We have received a most generous donation which serves as our first major gift towards this campaign and we welcome additional gifts in this effort. We are most grateful to our wonderful band of volunteers and welcome more! As our Career Academy grows, we are always looking for community partners to help connect us with others in the community. Our needs cover a wide range and we are most grateful for all of our community support!


Established in 1996, Northstar Academy is a K-12 non-profit private school. We are accredited by both VAIS (Virginia Association of Independent Schools) and VAISEF (Virginia Association of Independent Specialized Education Facilities) and, in 2017, were recognized as a School of Excellence by NASET (National Association of Special Education Teachers). Northstar started with 14 students in 1996.  Over the years, we have developed a comprehensive program reflecting best practices and research-based strategies for teaching students with disabilities that affectlearning.  Today, we serve 90-100 students on our Academic Campus.  In 2014,  we established the Northstar Career Academy offering vocational/technical courses to students ages 16-22. 

Few schools could teach children with such varied disabilities and abilities.  This quality has led Northstar to be recognized as a school of excellence for teaching students with disabilities across Central Virginia. We are licensed to serve 12 of the 13 disability categories identified by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Our students have one of more of the following:
• Autism
• Orthopedic Impairment (OI)
• Developmental Delay (DD) 
• Other Health Impairment (OHI)
• Emotional Disability (ED)                
• Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
• Hearing Impairment (HI)               
• Speech or Language Impairment (SLI)
• Intellectual Disability (ID)                
• Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
• Multiple Disabilities (MD)
• Visual Impairment (VI)
We believe that by welcoming this wide variety of students, we represent the broader community and offer our students the opportunity to learn from one another. We are recognized for educating a student population of diverse abilities and for using strategies and a curriculum backed by research and professional resources to motivate students to reach their highest aspirations and goals. Our students’ diagnoses may vary, but the common trait they share is difficulty in keeping up and fitting in with the quick pace and large class size of public schools. Because Northstar is recognized as a school of excellence, 58 percent of our students are placed with us from 17 school systems across Virginia. These school systems include City of Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, New Kent, Brunswick, Caroline, Dinwiddie, and Westmoreland. We offer a challenging educational environment, inspiring confident students to take educational risks to meet academic challenges.

CEO Statement

As the new Head of School, I’m excited to share we’ve had a successful start to our 21st year.  I’m often asked “What brought you to Northstar?" I recognized the time, talents and treasures Northstar offers its families.  Our staff spend countless hours designing and delivering instruction that has been customized to each individual student while also providing a nurturing environment that allows students to feel safe and accepted. We celebrate our students every day by allowing them to shine.  We help them discover their unique abilities and find ways for them to excel and meet the success that works for them.  While we feel the loss of Dr. Patricia West, our former Head of School, in her retirement, we are extremely grateful for the legacy she leaves behind. Her entrepreneurship and visionary guidance helped create the Northstar we have today. I’m fortunate she was able to share her time with me to prepare for a smooth transition. Rather than focusing on retirement during her last year, she successfully sought after and achieved accreditation for Northstar from not one, but two organizations - Virginia Association of Independent Specialized Education Facilities (VAISEF) and, for the first time, Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS). Northstar is one of the first private schools in the Commonwealth to hold both accreditations. To round out her tenure, Dr. West was also notified in the spring that Northstar was selected as a School of Excellence by the National Association of Special Education Teachers.  Every student who crosses our doorstep comes here for a reason. Each student becomes part of our family. We work together to help each student have their own personal success and feel confident in their abilities. As a team, we weave a tapestry that represents each student, family and teacher, creating a community devoted to ensuring that each student reaches their goals and aspirations – whatever they may be. 

As we go forward we will continue to provide a warm, welcoming environment where students are accepted and celebrated for who they are.

Crystal Trent
Head of School

Areas of Service
Areas Served
Metro Richmond
Tri-cities Region
Richmond, City
Chesterfield County
Colonial Heights, City
Dinwiddie County
Goochland County
Hanover County
Henrico County
Powhatan County
Charles City County
Gloucester County
King and Queen County
Louisa County
New Kent County
Amelia County
Prince George County
Westmoreland County
Essex County

Northstar Academy serves students across Central Virginia.  Fifty eight percent of Northstar students are placed thorough public school systems.  The counties listed represent former or current school system partnerships.  We endeavor to add more partnerships and to expand our footprint.  Metro Richmond, Tri-cities Region, Richmond City, Central Virginia, Brunswick, Caroline, Charles City, Chester, Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, City, Dinwiddie County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Goochland County, Hanover County, Henrico County, King William County, Powhatan County, Louisa County, New Kent County, Prince George County, and Prince Edward County.

Board Chair
Board Chair Mrs. Annie Witthoefft
Company Affiliation Bank of America
Term July 2017 to June 2020
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Mr. Ben Winters
Company Affiliation Winters-Oliver Insurance Agency
Term July 2017 to June 2020
Board of Directors
Board Members
Mr. Phillip Avant SunTrust Bank
Mrs. Lile Benaicha Troutman, Sanders LLP
Dr. Richard Bennett Dr. Lillie R. Bennett MD, LTD.
Ms. Katie M. Botha Special Olympics Virginia, Inc.
Ms. Shannon Carter Equity Concepts, LLC
Mr. William Charlet Davenport & Associates
Mr. Lemuel Doss IIIRetired, Universal Leaf
Mr. Peter Eliades Eliades and Eliades, P.C.
Mr. F. Robert Hershey Hershey Leadership Consulting
Mrs. Annie Kapetanis St. Catherine's School
Dr. Rhoda Mahoney Community Volunteer
Mr. J. Russell Parker IIIParker-Orleans, Inc., Retired
Ms. Jennifer Quindoza Collegiate School
Mr. Tom Walker Walker Realty
Ms. Vicki Warren ServiceNow
Mr. Ben Winters, CIC Winters-Oliver Insurance Agency
Mrs. Annie Witthoefft Bank of America
Mr. Watson Wright Retired, Dorsey, Wright & Associates
Mr. John Wyatt Willis North America
Mrs. Suzanne Yount SP Yount Financial, LLC
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 18
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 11
Female 9
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 2
Board Meeting Attendance % 80
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Program / Program Planning
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Crystal Trent
Former CEOs
Candace H. David June 1997 - Dec 2004
Patricia West Aug 2004 - June 2017
Senior Staff
Lynne Berkness Director of Development
Cindy Culley Director of Admissions/Assistant Head of School
Roy Peters Director of Finance & Operations
Full Time Staff 43
Part Time Staff 4
Volunteers 90
Contractors 22
Retention Rate 80
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 4
Date Strategic Plan Adopted June 2015
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
DARS – Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Atlantic Constructors
Big Lots
County of Henrico Division of Fire
Diversity Thrift
Einstein's Bagels
Ernst and Young
Field of Dreams Farm
Goodwill Industries
Habitat for Humanity
Happy Camper Pet Lodge
Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Locke A. Taylor, Veterinarian
The Country Club of Virginia
The Grace Place
Patrick Henry YMCA
Performance Food Group
Richmond Marriott
Richmond SPCA
SunTrust Bank
Walker Realty
Walter Jara Painting
Westhampton Day Care
Virginia Association of Independent Schools2017
School of ExcellenceNASET2017

Northstar recognized how critical social skills are to life success and happiness. Northstar, in partnership with Kluge Rehabilitation Center, developed a customized social skills curriculum specific to our student population. Our Social Skills program is a part of our mission to foster personal growth in our students. To that end, this year we’ve incorporated mindfulness into our curriculum to help students reflect on their emotions and manage their responses.  We’ve also adapted this curriculum for our Career Academy to help foster student growth in the workplace.


Northstar Career Academy offers career/technical education courses including: Business Marketing and Technology, Materials Handling, Hospitality, Construction & Maintenance, and Veterinary Assisting. The cornerstone of our approach is differentiated instruction in classroom skills with on- the-job experiences. Weekly job shadowing and/or internship opportunities are embedded in each course. Students have the opportunity to earn industry credentials.

Students graduate ready to face the demands of the workplace with work experience, a local network of professional contacts, and the self- advocacy skills necessary to obtain employment.


Extra Curricular: In order to provide a whole school experience, Northstar offers a variety of extracurricular activities to its students including sports, pep squad, talent shows, art shows, chorus, yearbook, cardio & art clubs, dances and prom. Seniors are recognized at Homecoming, Baccalaureate and graduation each year. Our annual homecoming event is an opportunity for students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff to celebrate their Northstar experience.



Lindamood Bell: The Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes are the foundation of the Northstar Academy reading, language arts and math programs. Northstar Academy has adopted three Lindamood-Bell processes related to reading and reading comprehension: Seeing Stars, Visualizing and Verbalizing, and Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing Program (LiPS). The Lindamood-Bell On Cloud Nine Math program develops concept and symbol imagery – or the ability to create an imagined or imaged gestalt from language – as a basis for math and integrates them with language. Northstar is one of only a few schools in Central Virginia to use the LMB program



Discovering Abilities through ArtArt is especially important for our students who struggle with verbal and written forms of communication; it provides them another avenue in which to interact with others in the school community. Through art our students learn to use their voice, materials, and tools just as artists would. Students learn to work in different mediums and to freely express themselves, and to represent their ideas and thinking.  The performing arts, drawing, other visual thinking techniques, and music are vital tools that assist our students learning giving them a voice.  Our community partners Art 180 and SPARC help drive this mission.

CEO/ED/Board Comments

Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $3,581,565.00
Projected Expenses $3,049,935.00
Spending Policy N/A
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$702,346$311,437$355,795
Investment Income, Net of Losses$5,687$7,921$2,722
Membership Dues------
Special Events$111,191$45,632$88,202
Revenue In-Kind$15,139$29,501--
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$2,217,743$2,008,058$1,570,373
Administration Expense$270,275$258,658$450,119
Fundraising Expense$208,676$208,502$179,279
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.220.991.08
Program Expense/Total Expenses82%81%71%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue26%58%40%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$3,359,578$2,720,570$2,730,506
Current Assets$1,950,210$1,330,877$1,357,132
Long-Term Liabilities$87,643$107,994$147,318
Current Liabilities$435,776$373,766$323,477
Total Net Assets$2,836,159$2,238,810$2,259,711
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities4.483.564.20
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets3%4%5%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 11/2017View
Foundation Comments
  • Form 990 and audit prepared by Lane & Associates, P.C.
  • Financial information provided by audit