Walt Disney "Illusioneer" will be AIM's 2019 Commencement Speaker

AIM Academy is excited to announce that this year's commencement speaker for our June 7th Graduation will be Daniel Joseph, a Principle Special Effects and Illusion Designer at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Our Upper School students who have enjoyed the 9th grade Four Threads trip to Walt Disney World, might be familiar with some of Daniel’s contributions to the Disney Parks. He was the “Illusioneer” behind the return of the Hatbox Ghost to The Haunted Mansion for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary, and he has conceived, designed, and installed a range of new special effects and illusions for Disney Parks around the world. In fact, Daniel is listed as the inventor on over 25 Disney patents.

Since our first Commencement in 2012 we have been committed to having our seniors final "lesson" be from an individual who, like our graduates, has a learning disability and understands acutely the grit and determination required to achieve remarkable outcomes. Our community has enjoyed speeches from accomplished individuals in their field including Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Philip Schultz, Eye to Eye President Marcus Soutra, cinematographer Larry Banks, Franklin Institute President Dennis Wint, Chair of AIM's Board of Trustees Matt Naylor, Philadelphia Insurance Companies founder James Maguire Sr. and Caldecott-award winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney.

Daniel, a Philadelphia area native who has been an inventor and tinkerer his whole life, is a perfect example of someone who has made his mark in his field despite his learning differences. His more than decade-long career with Walt Disney Imagineering began when he won first prize in the Walt Disney Imagineering “Imagi-Nations” design competition during his senior year at University of the Arts. He says as a child creating elaborate haunted houses in his parents’ basement was his absolute joy. "Since I grew up with some learning disabilities, my haunted houses gave me a creative outlet that I could ‘one up’ my friends in school that could read better or do arithmetic faster than me," he said. "They became bigger and more elaborate every year.”

We look forward to Daniel sending our 29 seniors into the world at graduation wit his remarks and hope that you will join us on Friday, June 7 at 10 am in the ACC.

  • upper school