PROGRAM — Empowerment Scholarship Account

Elisha has a big heart, he is tall for his age but he loves to help and he has a splitting personality. Often he is misunderstood by teachers. Routines are essential for him but if you set the expectations he is understanding of the changes. He is a foodie!

Gateway Academy was referred to us by Elisha’s advocate David Jefferson, after two and a half years of challenges in his public school. Kids in this school are at the same level as Elisha’s and the school focuses on their success. All the teachers are familiar with autism and kids like Elisha. The thing I really appreciate is that the classrooms are small. When we saw the videos made by students in the school, my husband and I were in tears and we knew this is what we were searching for.

Even though we started school in the middle of the pandemic, Elisha showed improvement within the first week. For the first time, a teacher approached us to tell us how bright and well-behaved he is. He now has conversations at home without us pushing his words out of his mouth. The youth pastor at our church let us know that for the first time he was participating and asked us what we were doing, since other students are also struggling during this time. My parents noticed at our Sunday brunch that Elisha was happy, confident, and talking! Gateway Academy has been a blessing to us. For the first time, teachers read his IEP plan before he started school.

“Even though we started the school in the middle of the pandemic, Elisha showed improvement within the first week. For the first time a teacher approached us to tell us how bright and well-behave he is. He now has conversations at home without us pushing his words out of his mouth.”

I believe more families should have the same privilege I’ve had in exercising school choice. I heard of ESA’s but never understood how they worked. I believe that every child with special needs should be in a private school that has an environment for their needs full-time and not part-time as the public school does. With public school, it’s a hit-and-miss when it comes to teachers since not everyone has an understanding for these children, and even the ones that are there to support them don’t always advocate in their best interest. Public schools are overwhelmed and focus on their agenda versus what is best for the children.

Peace of mind is the best I could describe school choice. My husband and I can focus on our jobs because Elisha has grown so much in just a few weeks. If we didn’t have this opportunity we would be frustrated and constantly would be having meetings with teachers. What a great opportunity this is for our children.

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