PROGRAM — Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program

I can not say enough good things about Gateway Academy. My son was diagnosed with high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) almost two years ago while in a public elementary school. While there, I received pushback from the school psychologist. She didn’t want to do the necessary testing needed for my son, she didn’t support me after the diagnosis, she didn’t support me once I said we would be doing a special therapy (ABA) with my son, and she didn’t support me once I told her I found Gateway Academy.

Although his public school teachers and the school principal were behind me, I couldn’t help but to feel like a failure. The school psychologist, the one person I needed, was not supporting my son or my family. My son was struggling socially and emotionally. The only way the public school knew how to “punish” my son was to suspend him; they didn’t teach him from his mistakes.

Fast forward a year and a half….and bam. Gateway Academy changes it all. We joined them just six months ago. My son was put into an amazing class with just five other students. The teachers, trained to work with autistic children, are out of this world. They know how to handle social and emotional trials and tribulations. In addition, I am seeing my son reach his full potential. At his old school, he was so busy trying to control his behavior while being made fun-of by other students for being different.

At Gateway, my son can just focus on being himself. He was automatically placed in a classroom that challenges him academically. He is at an advanced pace; something he should have been in before. There are no suspensions and his friendship circle has grown leaps and bounds. He is learning socially and emotionally. His unique needs are being met!

Here is part of a letter I sent our principal once we started online-only school from the CoronaVirus pandemic:

“I am seeing [my son] write…write! It was like pulling teeth when [my son] was in his past school. In addition, [my son] didn’t want to read while in quarantine. Richard [his teacher] suggested a book, and now he is getting a whole series that the book was in! He read the suggested book like he never had read before. Everything is just falling into place, whether in the physical classroom or virtual classroom.

[My son] hit a rough patch about getting sick of Zoom, etc. around week four at home. I emailed Ms. Madalyn asking if she could Zoom with [my son]. It wasn’t a problem…she was on with him within the next few hours. She is the one that calmed him down. She is the one who made him listen. And she is the one that created sanity in my house once again!

I love getting [the principal’s] daily emails and taking a moment to smile. The communication has been FABULOUS throughout this whole crisis. I can not thank you or your staff enough. I just want to hug everyone once we are back together!”

Each child is an individual and should be treated as such. Regardless of income, sex, age, or ethnicity, each family should do the best they can to help their child[ren] reach his or her full potential. School is not just about academics. There is plenty of other learning going on both inside and outside of the classroom.

Schools are molding the future; schools need to help each child and their unique needs. Social, emotional and academic learning must be combined to help shape a student, but not every school is prepared or has the resources needed to meet that challenge. In our case, we knew that public school was not the answer. We are very thankful we found Gateway Academy and look forward to many more years with them until my son graduates from there.


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