As a special needs parent, I know all too well the challenges faced by many of us on a daily basis. As a parent to three boys with special needs, I constantly worry about their future. I know that many of you out there, feel the same way.
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There’s a reason I call this blog Lost and Tired.
So often, I find myself overwhelmed and without help or a direction to go in. At the same time, I’m exhausted from trying to find that direction and seeing to all my children’s needs.
With that said, my wife and I have been able to check one of our biggest, daily worries off our list.
At one point in our lives, we were constantly worried about our kids education and not for the reasons you would think. We weren’t worried about their grades or whether or not they were doing their homework. Instead, we were worried about their safety and how they were being treated by not only the other students but that staff as well.
Our fears were very real while dealing with our local public school system, here in Canton, Ohio.
While I won’t go into details in this particular post, I’ll just say that our kids were mistreated and even abused. IEP’s were ignored and it was a horrible experience for both my wife and I and our kids.
In a move based out of sheer desperation, we pulled them from our local public school system, here in Canton, Ohio.
We had heard of the school called Summit Academy but had also heard nothing but horrible things about them from people we were working with in our public school system.
Desperate to find a better fit for our kids, we met with the director of our local Summit Academy and based on our first impression, felt that what we had been told about this school might not have been true.
We decided to enroll our kids and as it turns out, Summit Academy has been the best thing to happen to them in a very, very long time.
For starters, the school is free (yes I said free) and built around martial arts. The kids practice and learn marital arts as well. This teaches them discipline, control over their own bodies, respect for the people in their lives, respect for themselves and their own body as well as building self-esteem and a sense of accomplishment.
The teachers are highly educated and specialize in teaching children with Aspergers and ADHD, among other things. The staff is always undergoing continuing education to better learn how to work with our children.
Another huge benefit is the very low teacher to student ratio, especially when compared to the public schools. As an example, my first grader is in a class of 13 students and there are 3 teachers in his classroom. That’s simply amazing.
The students can learn at their own pace. Our 1st grader, for example is working a higher level that some of the other kids in his class. Instead of slowing him down or holding him back, they allow him to learn at his own pace. The same goes for the other students as well. If someone needs more attention or time spent on a lesson, they get it.
IEP’s are a very simple and pain free process, unlike what we were used to experiencing.
We actually look forward to these meetings because we get an update on our kids progress and also get a better feel for what they may need to work on. In our many years of experience at Summit Academy, we have never had to battle for anything related to IEP’s.
While our oldest still has problems at times, the school has found creative ways of helping him to deal with these problems while in the school setting. They work with each student on an individual basis and in conjunction the students parents can create a discipline plan that works best for that particular child.
Our particular Summit Academy (click here to download information about the Stark County, Ohio location) has a school wide reward system that encourages the students to help others and have a positive attitude. The students really respond to this and my kids love telling us when they earn a “Lizard Loot” for doing something kind for another person or for simply making a good choice or being a good example to others.
They feel a sense of pride and so do we, as their parents.
I can honestly say that our kids are thriving in this educational environment. They love going to school and no longer fear what awaits them there and neither to we.
As a special needs parent, we have a lot to worry about that many other families don’t. One of my biggest fears is what happens to my child when I’m not around? “ I think many of us can relate to that feeling. It’s an incredibly helpless feeling to not know what happens to our kids while they are at school.
Kids on the Autism spectrum can’t always express what they are feeling or report what they experience.
When we place our kids in care the of school, we are putting an enormous amount of trust in the teachers and staff. In the past, we have placed our trust in a system that failed our kids at every turn.
I can honestly tell you, without hesitation or reservation, that I completely trust the teachers and staff at Summit Academy, with the my kids education and wellbeing. I don’t trust people easily, especially when it comes to my children but over the past seven years, Summit Academy and all the staff has not only earned our trust but also our respect.
I would highly recommend Summit Academy to anyone with a qualifying child.
While no school is perfect, if a problem does arise, Summit Academy will work with the student, teachers and parents to find a solution.
If I had to level one criticism towards Summit Academy, it would be that they don’t offer year round school. That’s not so much a criticism as it is a suggestion, you know, in case someone is listening with the power to make that happen.
Seriously, though, if your child’s education has not been a positive experience or your child dreads going to school, maybe it’s the wrong fit. Perhaps you aren’t aware that there are other options. Please know that if you live in Ohio, there may be a Summit Academy in your area (click here to locate a Summit Academy School in your area). Don’t let anyone in the public school system make you feel that you don’t have other options. Unfortunately, many times, the public schools system is motivated by money and not your child’s best interest.
They may even discourage you from looking into another school like Summit Academy, they definitely discouraged us from looking.
Having said that, don’t be intimidated. You and only you can decide what’s best for your child. Maybe what’s best for your child is a school like Summit Academy or maybe not. What I want you all to know is that you do have options when it comes to your child’s education.
If you are looking for options, I highly recommend you look into Summit Academy. Give them a chance and they will educate your child and help him or her to reach their full potential, while earning your trust and respect….as they have ours.
A bit more about Summit Academy Schools (borrowed from their website)
Summit Academy Schools are for which population of students?
Summit Academy Schools are specifically designed to address the social, emotional and academic needs of students with AD/HD, Autism Spectrum Disorders and related disorders. The majority of our students are on an Individual Educational Plan (IEP).
Where are all your schools located?
For a complete listing,click here.
Do Summit Academy Schools charge tuition?
No. All our schools are free public community schools and non-profit 501(c(3).
What age levels do your schools serve?
5 to 22 years old.
What is the curriculum at Summit Academy?
Our curriculum is based on the College and Career Readiness Standards, with strong emphasis on social skills to help students grow to their full potential.
What is your instructional model?
Our model uses the “whole child” approach to identify the child’s academic, developmental and emotional levels. The therapeutic-based safe and nurturing learning environment addresses all facets of the child’s development. Group and individual counseling, social skills training, Therapeutic Martial Arts and behavioral principles based on ABA.
Low student to highly qualified teacher ratio in the classroom. Instruction is interactive and engaging. Therapeutic Martial Arts is one of the key components for improving social skills, self control, self confidence, respect, discipline and physical wellness. Summit Academy is a leader in integrating the latest instructional technology into classrooms and using web-based curriculum to enhance the learning of all students.
How is discipline handled in the schools?
Summit Academy has a student code of conduct and “Full Value Contract.” Each school has a Behavioral Specialist, IEP Coordinator and School Director to support positive behaviors.
Do Summit Academy students wear uniforms?
Yes. Khaki slacks or skirts with a Summit Academy polo-style shirt.
Must I live in Ohio to attend Summit Academy Schools?
Yes, all students must be residents of Ohio.
Do you prepare students for college?
Innovative programs and delivery prepare students for college, technical schools, meaningful careers, and to become productive citizens.
Please let them know that you read about this on Lost and Tired and that Rob Gorski sent you.
For more information on Summit Academy Schools in Ohio, check out my resource page here.