By Pamela Gauthier
When our youngest child Joseph was diagnosed with Down syndrome, we knew we were at the beginning of a lifelong challenge. We had many questions: What would be Joseph’s quality of life? Could he be happy like other children? What could we expect for Joseph’s education?
The answer to one of those questions came when Joseph’s father, Ronnie, was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room and saw an advertisement in a parenting magazine for Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy. Could this be the place for Joseph, a private school that provides unique solutions for unique learners? The bigger question – could we afford to send Joseph to this school?
Happily, the answers were yes and yes.
Joseph qualified for the Student Scholarships for Educational Excellence Program (now Louisiana Scholarship Program), one of the state’s three private school choice programs. The Louisiana Scholarship Program has given our family, and those in similar situations, the financial resources to escape a failing school and choose the environment that best suits our children’s needs.
“At the end of his first school year we had to almost bribe Joseph to leave school.”
Joseph is now 12-years old. He has attended Greater Baton Rouge Hope Academy for four years. We have seen him grow as a student and a young man. It was just a breakthrough.
In the classroom we saw immediate improvement, going from F’s to A’s and B’s. And we’ve seen Joseph grow personally in the areas of confidence and liking himself as a child, being able to interact with grown-ups and children. It’s been a tremendous change.
Joseph loves his school. At the end of his first school year we had to almost bribe Joseph to leave school. He was that excited about it. We could not believe this door had opened for Joseph to go to Hope Academy, and that gave us a total peace.
We always think about where Joseph would be without the Louisiana Scholarship Program. It’s kind of a frightening thought because he would still be in public school – just floating through life, not being challenged.