“Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship saved my oldest daughter’s life.”

Yet another compelling story about how the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship impacted a family, and why it’s awesome SB 386 passed the house, and now we need it to pass the Senate.

We have so many similar stories with our families that we completely understand their plights and advocate for these types of scholarships.

“Vivian was diagnosed with ADHD and a deficit in working memory in fourth grade. We obtained a 504 plan in fifth grade. This is a blueprint for supporting students with disabilities that allows them to continue learning alongside their peers, but our local public schools lacked the resources to provide that support when she entered middle school… 

“…Our once extroverted, tenderhearted child who was endlessly optimistic became angry, sullen and withdrawn. What she admitted to us later was alarming and heartbreaking: She had begun to have suicidal thoughts…

“…We decided we could not wait any longer and paid out of pocket for a private evaluation with a psychologist to help speed up the process. 

“Once her results were evaluated, the psychologist found several learning differences that would require an IEP. Unfortunately, it would be five months before an IEP would be written and by that time, Vivian had already failed sixth grade…

“…With the aid of the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship, Vivian began private school at the beginning of seventh grade.

“The difference was seen within the first three days of attendance. She began to thrive in an environment that taught subjects in multiple formats and gave individualized attention to her needs. They not only met the requirements of her evaluation but, in many ways, exceeded them.

“…But not all families have those resources. Senate Bill 386, which passed the Senate today, would strengthen the scholarship and break down barriers that families of special needs students face.”

Julia Mitchell Rohan

Read more about Vivian’s Story HERE. We have so many similar stories at Brookwood. You can read Mellie’s Story (our 2019 Valedictorian) in our 2018-2019 Annual Report, as well as HERE, and Blake’s Story in our 2017-2018 Annual Report, both are compelling, and the statistics for students who do not get appropriate reading instruction are grim, and outlined in the Progress Reports in both stories. You can also see the statistics regarding the success of our programs HERE.

Please CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE and ask them to support SB 386 so that all Georgia students with special needs have access to a school where they can thrive, and tell them your story if it applies! 

Get to Know Families Impacted by Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship.

#SayDyslexia #UntilEveryoneCanRead #1in5

SB 386 Passed the Senate!

Senate Bill 386 passed! Please take a moment to thank the senators who voted to support this legislation! Click HERE to find your senator.

You can read the full bill HERE.

Thanks to all of you who reached out to your senators! 🙂

Dyslexia Day at the Capitol 2020

Yesterday, Ms. Kim & Ms. Tammy went to the capitol for Dyslexia Day 2020 and this year they took two students, Will & Krissy. Both students were able to see how the legislative process works, as well as interact with advocates and lobbyists for dyslexia and other special needs students.

In addition to speaking with the leaders at other dyslexia schools, we spoke with other advocates for dyslexia including groups such as Decoding Dyslexia-Georgia and International Dyslexia Association-Georgia Chapter, and Meredith Pope, Mrs. Georgia US Continental, who volunteered her time to read to our students on Dr. Seuss Day last year.

We were also able to speak to Representative Ed Setzler (House District 35) and Senator Lindsey Tippens (Senate District 37), both of whom represent the school’s district and are very supportive of our mission. Senator Tippens is Will’s grandfather! 🙂

There are currently 2 new bills being introduced this legislative term, as well as the possibility of reconsideration of one that did not pass last term. They are briefly summarized here and you can link to our more detailed posts about each of them.

Senate Bill 386 will make it easier to get the Georgia Special needs Scholarship, as well as open up possibility of appeals and more access for those already receiving it or who have been denied a medical waiver.

House Bill 939 will amend HB 217, which raised the cap on the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship from $58 million, to $100 million. HB 217 has the cap reverting back to $58 million and HB 939 would eliminate that.

Senate Bill 173 is up for reconsideration during this legislative session and would allow parents to use funds earmarked for public education to pay for qualified education expenses, including private school tuition.

Please CONTACT YOUR SENATOR and REPRESENTATIVE and ask them to support these bills so that our families have the financial assistance they need so their children can go to school where they can thrive AND LEARN! Tell them your story if it applies! 

You can read Mellie’s Story in our 2018-2019 Annual Report, and Blake’s Story in our 2017-2018 Annual Report, both are compelling, and the statistics for students who do not get appropriate reading instruction are grim, and outlined in the Progress Reports in both stories. You can also see the statistics regarding the success of our programs HERE.

Left to Right: Senator Lindsey Tippens, Will Resh (student), Kim Wigington (Principal), Krissy Nagel (student), Tammy Urban (Director of Development), and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan
Left to Right: Krissy Nagel (student), Mrs. Georgia US Continental – Meredith Pope (Dyslexia Advocate), Kim Wigington (Principal), Will Resh (Student), Representative Ed Setzler.


Dyslexia Day at the Capitol Update

Update from the Capitol yesterday:

♦ There seems to be a lot of bipartisan support for SB48, which will mandate screening for all Georgia students Pre-K – 2nd grade. This will help dyslexic students get identified sooner so that intervention can begin sooner, which will increase the chance of a child achieving full reading potential sooner.

There is a public meeting of the Senate Education and Youth Committee in Room 307 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building today where this bill is on the agenda. There is still time to reach out to your senators (look up HERE) and even representatives, and it heads to the House next.  You can watch the proceedings HERE at 2PM.

Senator P.K. Martin, IV is chair of this committee and the other committee members can be found HERE.

♦ It appears that SB139 from last Spring Session did NOT pass but rather got caught up in politics during the last few days of the legislative session.

Section 2 (lines 60-81) of this bill would have amended the SB10 rules so that students returning to public school, non SB10 private schools, or homeschool, would NOT have to return to public school for an entire year in order to get SB10 should they return to Brookwood, or another SB10 accepting private school.

HOWEVER, this is still on the list to include in legislation. We will be following closely and keep you updated. When we have the new bill number we will let you know so you can reach out to your legislators. If you wish to follow this more closely yourself, we suggest joining the Facebook Group Supporting Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship.

♦ As Brookwood Christian is the only school that serves dyslexia in district 35, we were fortunate to be able to have a lengthy conversation with Representative Ed Setzler in his office about the above bills as well as other matters concerning our students. Representative Setzler is very supportive of our school and what we do, and supports both of the above bills when they get to the House.

♦ We were also able to, along with the leaders at other dyslexia schools, reach out and talk to other advocates for dyslexia including groups such as Decoding Dyslexia-Georgia and International Dyslexia Association-Georgia Chapter.

♦ We plan to begin working more closely with both of those organizations, as well as others that will benefit our families, to offer informative workshops and seminars for our parents at Brookwood, now that we have adequate space to do so!

♦ We are in the process of beginning a closed Facebook group exclusively for our school’s families so that you all may ask questions and share information, and we can easily share things too. We will let you know when that is up and running.

We are fortunate to have such supportive families and a wonderful staff that we can take the time to do this. We plan to continue such advocacy for our families and we thank all of you, our local community, and our elected officials that support us.


SEYC public meeting regarding SB48

Tomorrow, 2/13/2019, in a public meeting of the Senate Education and Youth Committee in Room 307 of the Coverdell Legislative Office Building at the Georgia State Capitol, SB 48 will be under consideration:

To amend Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to education, so as to
provide for identification of and support for students in pre-kindergarten through second
grade with dyslexia

Early identification will greatly increase the effectiveness of any programs we use. If you’re able to attend, get there a few minutes early to sign up for public comment to express your support for Mandatory Early Screening.

They need to hear from us! If you’re not able to make it in person, the meeting will be broadcast live, CLICK HERE TO WATCH.

Please contact your senator (look up HERE) to ask that they support this bill, by reaching out via email, social media, or calling.

Also feel free to contact the committee members:

Committee Members

Wilkinson, John, Vice Chairman
Brass, Matt, Ex-Officio
Tippins, Lindsey, Ex-Officio
Black, Ellis, Member
Stone, Jesse, Member

Possible changes to GSNS (SB10)

EDIT: It appears this information is from last spring, was shared yesterday, and when we saw it, didn’t pay attention to original date :-/  We are researching this to find out if it passed or what parts did, and will keep you updated when we find out. We apologize for any confusion.

========================================
Tomorrow is the last day of the Georgia legislative session.

Section 2, lines 60-81 of SB139 (text of bill HERE) includes language that would allow students who qualify for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (SB10) to not have to “re-qualify” by completing another year of public school if their families try an alternative option such as returning to public school, homeschooling, or attending another private school that does not accept scholarship.

Currently, the student would have to complete another entire year of public school if you want to use the scholarship in the future.

Contact your state house and senate representatives TONIGHT to voice your support for the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship language in SB139! You can look up your legislator HERE.