Gretchen Stewart

Smart Moves Academy, Tampa Bay, Fla.

Gretchen is the Founder of Smart Moves Academy (SMA), an inclusive private school launching in the Tampa Bay area with a vision to ignite the mind through movement. SMA’s model will optimize brain performance through physical activity for lifelong learning, health, fitness, and emotional well-being and will map a new course in teaching and learning where the brain and the body take precedence as natural and dynamic influencers of cognition.

Inspired by her 14-year-old son, Ari, who was labeled with Autism at age 3, Stewart says she struggled to find an inclusive learning environment where he could thrive. She developed a homeschool curriculum for him that resembles the model she aims to implement at SMA. Gretchen’s doctoral research with a group of international experts in movement, the brain, and cognition helped to further develop SMA’s model.

Prior to becoming a Drexel Fellow, Gretchen spent 15 years in public education as an award-winning teacher and educational leader. Gretchen is the Co-Founder of On Top of the Spectrum, a non-profit organization creating inclusive community fitness opportunities for young adults. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction with a specialization in Autism and Neuroscience from the University of South Florida.