I worked as a high school ESE teacher in the public-school system for many years. The schools had very limited resources and were not conducive for how students needed to learn. I saw a lot of students on the spectrum, but teachers didn’t know how to work with them. At the time, which was about 10 years ago, the diagnosis for Autism wasn’t as prevalent. One day, I had a pull at my heart to open a school for students with Autism. I thought to myself, ‘I think I can do this. I can open a school.’
I opened STARS Autism School in 2000 with just four students. Today, we have almost sixty. This is not a routine teaching job or principalship because our students can come and go so, we are more intentional with all that we do. We are very proud and blessed to have the opportunity every day to impact students’ lives. Every day is a learning experience because each student is different.
Services for students with special needs can be very expensive and a lot for parents to handle alone. The Florida Gadiner and McKay Scholarships help to lessen the financial burden on them.
I believe it is important to have school choice scholarships because education is diversified. I believe that today every student can have a school system that fits their unique needs, talents, and interest. I believe that students should be able to go to a school that makes them feel comfortable because that will really optimize their learning experience. I believe that our current one size fits all model of schooling is not the direction our future generations are going into. Having school choice is important. It ensures that our children are receiving the education they, as an individual, need to succeed.