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Marianna, FL: School offers support for autistic adults

Aug 25, 2022, WMBB, Panama City, FL: School for autistic adults opening in Marianna Monday

This upcoming Monday is the first day of class for a new type of school in Marianna. “Next Step at Endeavor Academy” is a two-year transition program for adults with autism. Executive Director Tammy Dasher has been working in special education for the last 30 years.

Next Step is a way for her to give back to the autistic community by helping them become self-sufficient.

“We know that adults with autism are some of the most unemployed or underemployed individuals so really what they need are some supports to get them started to be successful in a job setting,” Dasher said.

The program features classroom instruction for two hours in the morning, and then on-the-job coaching at worksites in places like grocery stores, software companies, and equine therapy centers in the afternoon.

“We individualize and figure out goals that are catered to our participants and that we came up with by ourselves, by the supervisors, and even from the participants themselves,” Next Step Transition Coach Dillon Berry said. “They come up with things that they know they need more support in and we will implement that to our best ability and see the progression in those goals.”

Next Step is part of the larger Endeavor project in Marianna, which is revitalizing the Dozier School for Boys property.

The building that the program is looking to move into is on the old Dozier land.

“We have a wonderful school building there with traditional classroom space,” Dasher said. “It also has a whole studio apartment within the school which we will use to practice independent living skills. It’s like you could actually live there, it’s an apartment. We also have a demonstration kitchen with four teaching stations that we will also use to learn to cook and things like that.”


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