PROGRAM — Education Savings Account

Our son Will, was at a wonderful charter school that underwent changes in staff and became less wonderful. They did not acknowledge Will’s 504 Plan and punished him for making noises in class. His punishment included writing fifty or sometimes one hundred sentences stating, “I will not make noise in class.”

He also missed out on the exciting football game because he made noises during the reading of the rules. Why was our wonderful, straight-A student making noises they deemed inappropriate? Well, he has Tourette Syndrome and High Functioning Autism.

He has Tics that are little hums, or throat clearings, or moans. He cannot control them, they are Tics. After discussing this with the new principal and his new teacher we thought things would improve. The gym teacher, after we talked with him, was beside himself and did everything he could to correct his behavior. Will’s regular teacher and the principal made no adjustments, and his teacher the following week made him write more sentences. We withdrew him immediately.

Will homeschooled for a couple of years, but it became evident that he is brilliant and needed the specialized skills, knowledge, and training that the teachers at Gateway Academy each have in spades. The Education Savings account made all of this possible! The Arizona ESA program, we believe, literally saved our son.

“The Arizona ESA program, we believe, literally saved our son.”

He had been depressed, bored, and felt alone at home; the highlight of his life was his music tutoring and his puppy. That was great, but not enough for our vibrant, gifted, and beautiful boy. ESA helped us to find a wonderful school home in Gateway Academy for Will. My boy is getting straight-A’s, has friends, and is adored by the teachers and staff. Will smiles again. He wants to go to school every single day, no matter how he feels physically. Will feels a part of something, he feels special, normal, and amazing all at the same time.

He is learning at his rate and being pushed to learn at his highest level. Will is supported, driven, appreciated for what he brings to the table. This lifesaving school would have been possible for us without the ESA; I mean that literally. Our son was having suicidal thoughts due to his depression, and since he has found the right learning environment he no longer has those thoughts. The ESA saved our son’s life.

I take care of my husband, a disabled combat veteran, full-time. Unfortunately, there is not an option for me to make a second income to provide this level of school for Will without an ESA. What the ESA and Gateway give my family is honor, peace, support, comfort, and strength. It is priceless. We love and appreciate both programs and will give back in every single way that we can. Our gratitude is not measurable.

Families of special needs students should be able to choose the right school for their children. We live in a country that values education and children, and we push them to grow up to follow their dreams. Dreams are nearly impossible to follow without the educational foundation to support dream building. All children should be able to attend schools where they feel valued, where they fit in, where they are given the chance to grow at their pace. They need a place where they will be seen as individuals with individual needs, goals, and attributes.

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