Kim and Jim Derk’s dream started much smaller than the 50,000-square-feet of Lifesong Academy.
They set out to adopt a set of twins from an orphanage in Hungary in 1996 which set in motion a series of events over three years that eventually led to the couple adopting and reuniting a total of six siblings from Eastern Europe.
Their adventures in international adoption, bringing the total number of children in their home to eight, was the subject of an award-winning newspaper series in 1997 and 1998 and Jim’s book “Hungarian Rhapsody: An Adoption Story” (http://www.amazon.com/Hungarian-Rhapsody-An-Adoption-Story/dp/1425957129/)
While working to raise their eight children, the couple realized that some of the issues faced by their new children could not be addressed by services currently available in the Evansville area. Kim, who was then working as Communications Manager for GE Plastics, began taking classes at night and on weekends and earned her master’s degree in special education from Ball State University, including graduate certification in Applied Behavior Analysis.
She soon became the only Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) in the Evansville area, first only to help her own children, but later after contact from other frustrated parents, to serve others. She quit her executive-level career at GE and opened a one-room education center in Newburgh called “Behavior Networks,”, which expanded three times before becoming Lifesong Academy in 2012.