“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“…Our once extroverted, tenderhearted child who was endlessly optimistic became angry, sullen and withdrawn.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! 🙂

SB 386 Update

From Steven Quinn, Special Education Advocate and Advocate for SB 386:

What a day at the capitol! The senate could vote as early as tomorrow on the bill. Thank you to everyone that has advocated so far. We need calls and emails from all corners of the state. There is still time to do so.

Here’s a quick email to send: https://p2a.co/f8IDMZm. If you can please share on your pages.

This bill would do the following to improve the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (SB10):

  • make it easier for families to enter the program by
    • allowing students with 504 plans to be eligible, 
    • moving the one year requirement back to special needs pre-school,
    • creating a waiver for students adopted from foster care, and

  • also make it easier for families already in the program
    • would base scholarship on most recent IEP–instead of Oct,
    • would give parents an appeal process, and 
    • would allow students who leave the program to enter back into it without having to repeat the one year!

This would ensure the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship reaches more eligible students by raising awareness for families, cutting red tape, and lowering barriers that frustrate efforts to enroll.

Ms. Noelle went to the capitol to tell her story about her daughter, Charlotte, to the Senate Education & Youth Committee. You can read her story HERE.

Many of our families at Brookwood Christian rely on this scholarship to ensure their child receives the services they need, as dyslexia, and many other language processing concerns, are not adequately addressed, if at all, in public school. 




SB 386 Update

SB 386 passed the Senate Education & Youth Committee 6-4 and now awaits scheduling for a vote by the full Senate.

Ms. Noelle spoke before the committee last week and you can read her story HERE.

Many of our families at Brookwood Christian rely on the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship to ensure their child receives the services they need, as dyslexia, and many other language processing concerns, are not adequately addressed, if at all, in public school. Several other families need this scholarship but because they could not wait an extra year to address their child’s needs, they are ineligible. Passage of this bill may allow them to receive the scholarship. You can read more about it HERE.

Please CONTACT YOUR SENATOR 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! 

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.

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

If you have any questions, feel free to email Ms. Kim for clarification.

Read about other legislation that may impact our school HERE.




Ms. Noelle Tells Her Story to the Georgia Senate

On Wednesday, February 26, the day after Dyslexia Day at the Capitol, Ms. Noelle spoke before the Senate Education & Youth Committee regarding Senate Bill 386 and its possible impact on the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (SB10). Her story, along with so many others, is so compelling that we wanted to share it. Below is her speech. If you would like your story featured, please EMAIL it, along with a picture.

“Thank you for taking the time to listen to me and my story.


“Let me introduce myself. I am Noelle Smith. I have a BA in Architectural Studies and a Master of Library and Information Science degree. I am a divorced mother of 3 young women, and we live in Acworth. My oldest daughter, Cheyenne, is studying to be a commercial pilot and graduated in 2011 from Harrison High School in Cobb County. My middle child, Charlotte, is a senior at Kennesaw State University and is studying Electrical Engineering and Mechatronics. She graduated in 2015 as valedictorian from Brookwood Christian School in Cobb County. My youngest, Collette, is a junior studying Neuroscience/pre-med at the Georgia Institute of Technology and graduated in 2018 as 4th in her class from Harrison High School. We were a military family for 22 years and stayed in Georgia after my ex retired from the Marine Corps.


“My daughter Charlotte and all the other children with learning disabilities are who I am here to represent today. Let me tell you Charlotte’s story. We had known since she was 5 that there was something going on with her ability to learn letters. They just did not make sense to her. I tried to have her tested at the schools we were at; however, this was immediately after 9/11 so we were transferred to Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana in quick succession. Charlotte received her first IEP in 2004 and a diagnosis of dyslexia.


“In 2006, we moved to Atlanta. Charlotte was in 4th grade. I immediately began the process of having a new IEP issued. At this point, she attended Vaughan Elementary in Powder Springs. She loved school but struggled because she was different and could not read more than simple words at this point. I knew unless she received intensive, one-on-one specialized instruction, she was going to be lost in the public school system and maybe never be able to read. I began to look for a school that specialized in helping students with learning disabilities. I found Brookwood Christian School in Acworth.


“Luckily, Charlotte had an IEP in place and the state of Georgia had just begun the SB10 program. This scholarship enabled me to place my child in a small school with specialized instruction and small classroom sizes. Best of all, all the students had a learning disability of some kind, so everyone was on a level playing field. She thrived.


“When Charlotte was in the 9th grade, my husband and I divorced. He was unwilling to help with her private education, so the SB10 scholarship literally saved my child. I am a teacher and my income was not enough to keep her in a private school. She was able to stay at Brookwood Christian School only because of the SB10 Scholarship. I knew fighting to keep her at Brookwood was worth all the hardships when she began reading books for pleasure. Now she is excelling at Kennesaw State University and has a 3.52 GPA.


“I fell into teaching because my child needed me, and as a teacher of students with learning disabilities, I have seen how the SB10 has changed lives. There are many success stories to hear. There could be many more. I have seen students that want to attend Brookwood Christian be unable to because their families were unable to pay the tuition. Many of these students had a 504. Many returned to the public school system in an attempt to obtain an IEP.  Some were successful at gaining an IEP and were able to enter Brookwood Christian. I have seen several who were unable to obtain an IEP. I remember one such student who dropped out of school. I fear for him. He has fallen between the cracks.


“I ask that you please expand this program to include all children with disabilities; be a part of the success stories. 


“I appreciate your time. Thank you.”

~Noelle Pearson

And THANK YOU Ms. Noelle, for taking the time to advocate for our students and other special needs students!

You can also 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.

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

#SayDyslexia #UntilEveryoneCanRead #1in5

Noelle Smith, Teacher, Brookwood Christian School.

Senate Bill 386 to Improve SB10 Scholarship

Senator Renee S. Unterman – R (45th District) has filed a bill that would improve SB10 (Georgia Special Needs Scholarship):

  • making it easier for families to enter the program
    • allowing students with 504 plans to be eligible, 
    • moving the one year requirement back to special needs pre-school,
    • creating a waiver for students adopted from foster care, and

  • would also make it easier for families already in the program
    • would base scholarship on most recent IEP–instead of Oct,
    • would give parents an appeal process, and 
    • would allow students who leave the program to enter back into it without having to repeat the one year!

This would ensure the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship reaches more eligible students by raising awareness for families, cutting red tape, and lowering barriers that frustrate efforts to enroll.

Ms. Noelle will be going to the capitol TOMORROW to tell her story about her daughter, Charlotte, as it will be addressed in committee. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

Many of our families at Brookwood Christian rely on this scholarship to ensure their child receives the services they need, as dyslexia, and many other language processing concerns, are not adequately addressed, if at all, in public school. 

Please CONTACT YOUR SENATOR 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! 

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.

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

If you have any questions, feel free to email Ms. Kim for clarification.

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.


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.

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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.

 

HB801 proposed changes to GSNS (SB10)

HB801 was filed yesterday by Representative Scott Hilton. This legislation would:

  • give flexibility in how scholarship funds are spent,
  • change the scholarship calculation from the October to the March FTE count,
  • make special needs preschool count towards the one year,
  • give an exemption from the one year for children adopted from foster care,
  • ensure that if you participate in the scholarship, you never have to meet the one year requirement again!

Check it out at this link http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislati…/…/display/20172018/HB/801.