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Debbi K. Scarborough, Educator and Autism Advocate

Debbi K. Scarborough, Educator and Autism Advocate

Debbi K. Scarborough

For more than three decades, Debbi K. Scarborough has helped shape minds and set spirits on fire as the Head of School and founder of Cumberland Academy of Georgia. She’s made it her mission to create the best environment possible for children with high-functioning Autism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD and other learning differences. When she’s not spearheading educational change, you can catch her on the tennis court or soaring through the skies with her pilot’s license, proving that life’s adventures are best enjoyed with a dash of courage and a lot of fun.

How have you used your passion to make the world a better place?
My son, Steven, was born with medical challenges. Later, we learned he had autism. He was such a bright young person with enormous potential. In 4th grade, we knew he needed a specific education and tried diligently to find a school in Atlanta. There were none. I knew if my son needed a specific education for his learning challenges there would be others who needed the same. I am passionate about helping kids find their place where they are able to thrive. We call that place Cumberland.

What inspires you to get up every morning? 
Each day I walk into Cumberland with my dog, Calli, and begin the students’ day with announcements. We discuss upcoming events at the school, and there is always a success to celebrate: a student learns to drive, another wins a spelling bee. It’s so inspiring to see these students overcome enormous obstacles and achieve these life wins.

What are some obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are today?
When I started Cumberland, I had been a 35-year veteran in the business world. I knew business but had to learn the education world. Those first few years were full of growing pains but also full of new and exciting challenges for me personally. I am also happy to say that I am a breast cancer survivor!

When was the last time you did something outside of your comfort zone?
Many people are surprised (and some not!) that I have my private pilot’s license. When I studied for the pilot’s test, it was intimidating to schedule a flight, check the plane then actually take off from the runway.

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