First and only free public school for students with dyslexia opens in SC

EASLEY, SC (WIS) - There are only five public schools in the country that are designed specifically for students with dyslexia.

One of those schools is right here in the Palmetto State. The Lakes & Bridges Charter School opened up this fall in Easley.

Already, students with dyslexia say the school is a God-send. In fact, school officials say that families have moved from three different states just to be able to attend the Lakes & Bridges Charter School in Easley.

Many parents and students say it’s the overdue solution for students with dyslexia.

“The public schools are doing the best job that they know how to do," says Principal Heidi Bishop. "The teachers just are not getting the correct training to work with children with dyslexia.”

Dyslexia is a learning difference that makes it more challenging to read, write and spell, which affects one in five people.

A first-grade teacher, Andrea Bishop, has a son with dyslexia, who’s also a student at Lakes & Bridges.

“He was having some trouble connecting letters with sounds," Andrea Bishop said. “He had a lot of trouble sequencing things.”

Andrea says her son’s special needs simply were not met at traditional public schools.

“He had some great teachers and they just didn’t know what it was, and they didn’t know how to help him specifically," Andrea said. "So, he was very frustrated in school, and he felt very isolated. He couldn’t keep up with the others, and it was very evident.”

Lakes & Bridges is one of only five schools in the nation designed especially for students with dyslexia.

The classrooms offer innovative classroom furniture, which caters to the students’ success.

“A lot of our children have a hard time staying focused and a lot of them need that ability to move and when they’re able to do that, they can focus,” Andrea said.

Lakes & Bridges offers a different learning environment that Andrea’s son says changed his life.

“He saw a book and it’s called ‘The Invisible Boy’ and he looked at that book and he said, ‘mom, that was me in my other schools,' and he said, ‘but not at Lakes & Bridges. They see me.’ And what he’s saying is they identify him – they know that he has dyslexia," Andrea recalled. "They know how to help him and they’re meeting his specific needs.”

Principal Heidi wants people to know dyslexia is not a disease.

“It’s not a lack of intelligence. It’s not a lack of motivation," Heidi said. "If you put the children into the correct environment, they’re going to learn.”

Right now, Lakes & Bridges is operating out of Crosswell Elementary School, but school administrators are in the process of raising money for their own building just a few miles down the road on Main Street.

For more information on how to donate, visit: www.lakesandbridges.org/donate

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