Our son Josh suffers from ADHD and spent 9th and 10th grades at our local public high school. While this high school is consistently rated as one of the best high schools in the United States, it was not a good fit for Josh. Even with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in place, school was pretty much a disaster for Josh.
The school would give him "accommodations": extra time to take tests, the ability to turn homework in late, etc. But Josh was still being taught in mainstream classrooms, with 30 kids. He did not get the individualized attention he needed. As Josh so eloquently put it one day, "What difference does it make if I get extra time to take tests if I don't know what I'm doing?"
Enter the Leelanau School in Glen Arbor, Michigan. Just before this school year began, Kathy, Josh, and I went to visit the school. The Leelanau School is a private, non-profit, strength-based experiential boarding high school school for intelligent boys and girls who simply learn differently. They specialize in teaching kids with ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, and similar learning differences. Their strengths lie in their dedicated faculty and small, supportive boarding school environment. Their mission? "To support the discovery of individual potential through academic, physical, and personal development of students who learn differently."
While driving home after our tour of the school last summer, Josh said something very profound to me and Kathy: "I think this school could change my life."
And change his life it has. Josh has gone from feeling "lost" in school to feeling welcome. From getting poor grades to getting excellent grades. And from not wanting to go to school to absolutely loving it. In seven short months, he has blossomed into an excellent student, made lifelong friendships with fellow students from around the world, and done things he never would've done in public school (e.g., performed in a play, performed music in front of a crowd...even dyed his hair blue.) He has done these things because he feels comfortable in his environment; an environment where all the students like and support each other and where teachers give the individualized attention students like Josh need to learn.
So here's the deal: The Leelanau School is not cheap. And we are not wealthy. In the interest of full disclosure, we do receive financial assistance from the school. But the tuition and other expenses are still a financial burden for us. Other situations in our life have taken up considerable finances over the years and continue to do so today.
We want nothing more than to send Josh back to the Leelanau School for his senior year and to see him graduate from there in June of 2014. And we will do everything in our power to try and make that happen. We have even talked about selling our house, although I hope it doesn't come to that (primarily because our house is currently worth way less than we paid for it).
We are asking you to consider making a donation--no matter how small--to help offset the costs of sending Josh back to the Leelanau School next year. While this may sound to some like us asking you to pay for a luxury for us--which it might actually be--we want you to know that if it wasn't for the Leelanau School, we don't know what we would do to get Josh the education he deserves.
If you choose to donate to our cause--Josh's cause, really--we would greatly appreciate it. We assure you that every cent of any donation we get will go towards offsetting the costs of Josh's tuition for the 2[phone redacted] school year.
I (Dean) have to admit: I'm still not sure I'm 100% comfortable asking my friends for help. But this is the 21st century and this tool is available. So we figured we'd give it a try.
Kathy and I are frugal people. We do not live an extravagant lifestyle. We pretty much live paycheck-to-paycheck and often times help others when we can. Trust me: We wouldn't ask for help if we didn't need it.
Thanks for reading and thanks for at least considering a donation to Josh's school fund for his senior year.
For more information on the Leelanau School, visit their website: http://www.leelanau.org/
-Dean & Kathy
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