Bryant's Dream School

Friends, Family & Aquaintances:

For those of you who know us personally or may be reading our story for the first time; the creation of this page comes with great emotions. There are emotions of sadness and heartache as we have watched our son in a downward spiral over the course of the last five years, emotions of frustration and anger at a public school system that has blatantly failed him and yet feelings of faith and hope when we look into this amazing little boy's eyes believing God has great things in store for him. Obvisously, when you become a parent there is nothing in the world you wouldn't do to see your child succeed: you help to provide everything they need along their journey of life as you watch, support, love and encourage them as they aspire toward their individual dreams. We thank you in advance for taking part in reading our family story, sharing it, contributing to it or simply praying for it...we know with every great testimony comes a struggle and this is ours...

Bryant had the benefit of going to work with his me at the age of six-weeks old through a co-op program at the private school where I worked at. The program allowed for me to transition back into teaching while having Bryant there with me. He spent three years in the program, being at work with me and still having quality time with me during my breaks and lunchtimes. Following this, Bryant headed into our pre-school program at the school. The mission of the school was phenomenal and one that put children at the forefront. Bryant was in low student-teacher ratio classrooms and a school whose primary focus was hands-on and experiential learning. At this time in my life, I left the school and my current position to pursue my master's degree and another job. The following school year brought a series of unfortuante events including Bryant's dad and I divorcing and him going into public school for the first time. When everyone thinks back to their child's first Kindergarten experience it should be warm, inviting and fun! Unfortunately this wasn't the case for Bryant. I still remember the look of defeat when he ran in the first day of school to hand his teacher a special project he had made, she tossed it aside and told him she didn't have time to look at everyone's projects..."this isn't private school she snapped!" A Kindergarten year full of tears, frustration, and finishing projects in the hallway led me right back to the first school Bryant had ever been. Bryant wasn't interested in reading, was having a lot of difficulty with both pre-reading and pre-writing skills and I knew my former co-workers could help give him the foundation he needed to move forward and feel good again. Bryant redid Kindergarten the next year and then moved onto first grade.

In that time, I met my husband Derek and remarried. Bryant now had an additional father figue in his life and even bigger support system around him. As Derek & I built our lives together, financially we were both in a rebuilding stage and knew a tough decision had to be made. We decided to put Bryant back in the public school system given a loss of scholarship dollars due to our getting married and the amount it would cost for us to continue him in private education. We felt strongly that he gotten the foundation he needed for reading and writing to now be successful in all areas of his learning. 

Bryant started 2nd grade back in the public school system. He maintained in class sizes of more than 25 children, struggled with nightly homework and projects and quickly recognized he was one boy in a school of hundreds. We asked about testing for Bryant because he was falling behind again in reading and the only thing he received was a set of extra books to read over the summer since he was a "struggling reader". Third grade brought anxiety, a computerized reading program and a teacher that felt he was unaccountable & never wanted to take responsibility and do his work. After several parent-teacher conferences and making no reading progress at all in third grade, Bryant's teacher insisted it was because he was a goof-off and just didn't try. We asked if testing was needed & were assured Bryant just wasn't applying himself. In Fourth grade Bryant hit an all time low, his anxiety was now coupled with sickness, fear of going to school, loss of sleep, and low self-esteem. He was placed in all the low groups due to low performance scores & to make matters worse his former third grade teacher whom he made no reading progress with was now assigned as his fourth grade reading teacher.  

After the first month of school we knew we had to do something in support of our son. Bryant hated school, despised reading, was having hour long meltdowns in regards to nightly homework and was begging to be home-schooled. After a lot of prayer and discussion, we knew we had to seek professional help. Being in the field of education, I knew one of the best neuropsychiatrists here in the valley. We made a commitment to pay for a full educational psych eval and spent three days completing the battery of tests. We called for a team meeting at the school, took an educational advocate & the school agreed to accept the outside private testing we had done. Despite the testing results and the report findings stating that Bryant not only suffered from a form of Dyslexia & ADHD, he was coupled with a severe anxiety disorder allowing him to qualify for an IEP. Only, given AZ qualifications for special education services, Bryant scored '4 points higher' than deemed necessary for the school system to provide him with services for his reading, writing and executive functioning skills. We were informed the only thing they could do was to supply a 504 plan, but one that had minimal accommodations because their school pyschologist now only worked one day a week and the teachers had a lot of students in their classrooms. Bryant painfully struggled through his year, the only accommodation met in his 504 plan was his desk was moved closer to the teacher. Our evenings consisted of 2-3 hours doing homework, projects and trying to best study for tests. His final class project, Bryant had to create 125 index cards for a biography report, write a five page report from the cards making necessary edits & revisions then create and memorize a five minute speech to present to the class. When the teacher and the school refused to make necessary accommodations for Bryant and his learning needs, we chose to end his school year early.

Now sits an eleven year old boy, broken and beaten down from an educational system that not only failed him but convinced him that he was the issue, not them. As parents, & personally as an educator, there is nothing worse than seeing your son wanting nothing to do with reading and learning. Our first glimmer of hope came when we toured & visisted New Way Academy this summer. Not only did Bryant feel safe, secure and happy while spending two days there, he came home ecstatic to share that every teacher was compassionate and cared about helping him learn the way that suited him best, something he hadn't felt in a long time! 

The decision to ask our friends, family and aquaintances for finacial assistance was a difficult one and it came with thoughful consideration and prayer. The financial obligation that comes along with sending our son to this specialized school is quite daunting once you consider tuition, program fees and an individualized education plan. We know in our hearts that Bryant is at a crossroads moment in his life and he desperately needs this dream to become a reality so he can learn how to compensate for his learning needs, be with other children like him and eventually restore that initial love of learning. New Way has a long history of effectively & compassionately educating children with learning differences through individualized, comprehensive and multi-disciplinary programs teaching each child the way they learn. Bryant's dream to attend New Way Academy coupled with our faith is sure to equal an amazing testimony of what individuals with learning differences can achieve.

We are asking for donations both large and small to help us make this dream come true, every dollar counts and gets us that much closer to our goal! We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your prayers, your contributions and for standing in agreement with us that all things are possible for those that believe!

With love & blessings,

Nicole & Derek

  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 82 mos
  • Gayle Feldman 
    • $50 
    • 83 mos
  • Orit Feinberg 
    • $25 
    • 83 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 83 mos
  • Julie Marks 
    • $50 
    • 83 mos
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Nicole Lynn Stokes 
Avondale, AZ
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