Faces of Freedom - Brady

Faces of Freedom - Brady

We are so thankful that our son, Brady, is a Succeed Scholarship recipient. He is able to attend Compass Academy, where they are better equipped to help each individual child thrive based on how they learn. Brady enjoys going to school, and they are so passionate about helping each kid be successful at their own pace. We are so thankful that the Succeed Scholarship provides him that opportunity!

– Wendy, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Faces of Freedom - Isabella

Faces of Freedom - Isabella

I am an educator by trade, so seeing my daughter, Isabella, struggle in school hurt my heart. When she started the third grade, we transferred her from an academically advanced public charter school to my home school, a public elementary school. I was SURE she would receive the help she needed there, because my school was fantastic at remediating and providing interventions.

However, while the assessments and data proved she was struggling … she wasn’t “low enough” for many resources in our public school setting. I was frustrated. I was livid. I was her parent AND a teacher at this fantastic school, but could not get my child the help she needed. I could not even get her tested for dyslexia by the district, even though SO many markers were there. I felt defeated, like we wasted yet another year … and here she was about to go into the fourth grade and still could not read.

Since the public school district denied our request to test Isabella for dyslexia, we hired one of the few certified and approved test examiners we could find locally. This was NOT cheap, and took several days. The findings broke my heart. Not only did Isabella have profound dyslexia, she also had dysgraphia (no wonder she could not tie her shoes and wrote in the center of a line on paper) and dyscalculia.

We had several meetings with the examiner, public school staff, and even her future principal/teacher for 4th grade on what the best accommodations were for her, and set up a Barton tutor (again, out of pocket, because all the school was able to offer at that time was a PE teacher that had only seen a training video. That did not leave me confident enough that my child could get caught up AT ALL—we were wasting time!!

During her 4th grade year, we tried so hard to make the best of what public school had to offer. We tried oral testing, we tried every kind of math fluency game I could find (and I had great resources as a fellow teacher in the district!). But we kept being hit with assessment data that was not improving like it needed to be.

Isabella started to believe she couldn’t do it and that she was stupid. She had one year left before being sent to the public middle school. She could NOT be fed to the wolves reading at a 2nd grade level! She struggled socially, and her behavior at home became more than we could manage. We knew we had to make big changes for her AND for our entire family.

During that time, I had come to hear of a school named ACCESS. Its curriculum was based on the Dubard Association Method, similar to the Barton method she had started in public school, but instead of it being 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes, it was used for many academic areas and for HOURS every day. After meeting with them, touring the school, and letting Isabella shadow for one day, we made the hard decision to pull her from public school and put her in a school that could finally meet her needs.

This decision was VERY taxing on our family of 7. We had to pull Isabella and her older sister out of competitive dance, and cut back in many other areas in order to afford the tuition. Her dad began a second job. We were DETERMINED to do what we needed to make this work for her. However, we did not know how long we would be able to keep that kind of financial strain up, seeing as her older sister was in high school and would be thinking of college soon.

ACCESS was a wonderful fit for Isabella. She qualified for other therapies, which she could not have in a public school setting. She was getting individualized physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy. Her grade equivalency went from a beginning 3rd grade reading level to an end of year 4th grade reading level!!! That is almost TWO WHOLE YEARS worth of growth in 12 months!!!!! I literally cried when she brought home her first chapter book. That year at ACCESS was the year she learned to tie her shoe. It was the year she read her first chapter book AND ENJOYED IT. She joined Special Olympics and found her niche in swimming. The child had an incredible backstroke! We were so proud of her progress, and pleased with the institution that was helping make her feel successful! With so much progress, the conversation at home was often “how much longer can we afford to let her stay when she is doing SO well??”

The following year, we heard that ACCESS was beginning an accreditation process and was accepting the Succeed Scholarship. Once I looked into it, I realized it was the money from special services already allotted to my child in that school district — only she was not attending public school. So, it made sense to me that the money should follow her to a school that fit her needs, when public school could not. This was a complete Godsend to us!!! It did not cover tuition completely, but it paid a large portion of it. This meant that Isabella could stay at ACCESS and continue to thrive!

Isabella is beginning her 5th year at ACCESS. She has been able to test out of therapy, and in her 9th grade year, is starting to do 6th/7th grade math. She is reading and writing at levels we were not sure we would ever see out of her if she had stayed in public school. Isabella’s self esteem is high. She is happy. SHE HAS FRIENDS!!! She is learning how do things that most teenagers are doing (like studying the driver’s manual for her permit). We fully expect her to be able to get her GED and go onto a technical school in a few years. None of this would be possible without ACCESS. And without the Succeed Scholarship, Isabella would be without ACCESS.

– Amy, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Faces of Freedom - Tracy's

Faces of Freedom - Tracy's daughter

Faces of Freedom - Tracy's

My daughter was able to receive the Succeed Scholarship for the first time this fall. The scholarship has made it financially possible to attend a school that meets her needs. The change in school has made a huge difference in her desire to attend school and has reduced her stress greatly.

She deserves the same opportunity to learn as anyone else. She has untapped potential that now has a chance to be found through her new school. Losing this scholarship and forcing her to go back to public school would be to her detriment. The public school does not meet her needs and does not give her the same opportunity to learn. The Succeed Scholarship is vital to her future and her ability to succeed.

– Tracy, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Faces of Freedom - Sydney

Faces of Freedom - Sydney

I wanted to reach out and let anyone and everyone how much my family appreciates the Succeed Scholarship. First, let me express that I am a public school employee and a big supporter of our Arkansas public schools. My mother, aunt and mother-in-law are all retired teachers, and I have been employed in the education system for 15 years now as a Speech-Language Pathologist.

My daughter Sydney attended public school from kindergarten until fifth grade, where she benefited from both 504 and IDEA services. However, as her diagnosis of non-verbal learning disability continued to complicate her education, our family reached the decision that our school district could not accommodate her learning needs for her to succeed to her fullest potential.

With lots of prayer and research, we placed her at Access Academy, where she has benefited from specialized instruction, smaller classroom size, open arms for children with disabilities, a peer group and friends. Most importantly, in two school years at Access she has mastered three grade levels of reading and two grade levels of math, bringing her much closer to her age appropriate level. Please take my daughter’s story into account before there are any decisions made about changing funding the Succeed Scholarship.

Professionally, I support The Reform Alliance and the Succeed Scholarship; however, there could be a need to review the eligibility criteria for the scholarship. A student who has a speech-language impairment should be adequately serviced from their local public school, and currently students with that eligibility category qualifies for the Succeed Scholarship. As in the case with my daughter, there was truly a discrepancy between what services and individualized education she could benefit from by moving to a private school.

Thank you sincerely for your time, attention and support of our Arkansas students with disabilities. They are valuable and deserve only the best educations they can receive.

– Lauren, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Faces of Freedom - Piper

Faces of Freedom - Piper and Kasey

Faces of Freedom - Piper

My family benefits tremendously from the Succeed Scholarship. My 12-year-old daughter, Piper, is able to attend Hannah School this year because of the scholarship. We adopted Piper when she was 5 years old out of foster care. We knew Piper had an ADHD diagnosis when we adopted her. She is definitely a bright and enthusiastic child.

Piper loved school! We actually had her in a small private parochial school near our house, but by the time Piper made it to fifth grade it became more apparent that she was falling behind her peers. A friend of mine suggested we have Piper tested for dyslexia. We did it and not only was Piper dyslexic, she had a “double deficit” where her speech plays into it. It was a very expensive test, and it was a relief to have an answer to Piper’s trouble with school work. It was also a sad time, because I couldn’t believe we had let so many years go by without knowing she was dyslexic and NEEDED HELP.

We tried hiring a tutor twice a week for almost two years. It just isn’t/wasn’t enough. Piper needs intense intervention DAILY. She needs teachers who understand dyslexia and how to teach a child who struggles with it. We moved Piper to Hannah School this year with hopes she will be able to catch up to her peers and be able to transition in a few years to a more traditional high school. Without the Succeed Scholarship, this would not be possible. We are a middle class family, but we have three children. Piper is not our only child with special education needs.

We adopted Kasey (our middle child) two years after Piper’s adoption was final. Kasey was 6 years old when she came to us. Her foster family described her as “eccentric.” One year after living with Kasey, it became apparent that Kasey was not a normal 7 year old. We knew she had a traumatic background, but not much else is known about where Kasey came from. We decided to have Kasey psychologically tested.

When Kasey’s tests came back, I sat with the therapist and bawled. My daughter had a list of disabilities that I had never heard of: Sensory Processing Disorder, Borderline Intellectual Functioning, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Attention Deficit. What were we to do? Would Kasey ever grow to be an independent adult?

We were told there were two choices for Kasey’s education. She could stay in the small parochial school we had put her in, and they would make accommodations for our child to the best of their ability or we could put her in public schools where she would be in with the general population but be pulled out for special ed classes.

Kasey does not deal well with change, and in her short life she has had to deal with so much change and turmoil. We decided to keep her where we had her. Last year Kasey struggled terribly. Her teacher was fantastic, but Kasey knew she wasn’t able to do the same things her peers were doing academically. She began to have daily migraines and vomiting. My little girl who loved school didn’t want to go anymore. Once Covid-19 hit and we had to home school, we knew we had to find another way for Kasey.

Another friend told me to check into Access Academy. Wow! What a perfect fit for Kasey! She was accepted, and — with the Succeed Scholarship — we were able to budget for Kasey to attend. She is thriving there! She has only been there for a month now, but my Kasey loves school again. She talks with love about her teachers and can’t wait to go. I feel hope that she has found a place to help her move from a child and on into adulthood! We need this scholarship! It has helped not only our family, but so many other families like ours.

– Lezlie, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Education conference will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1

Education conference will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Sept. 20, 2021) – The Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA), Bright Futures USA, The Reform Alliance (TRA) and the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) are hosting an education conference at City Center in Little Rock on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Teachers, administrators, counselors and other education professionals are invited to register at https://sftl.me/conference/ for the Student Focused Teacher Led conference. Registration costs $100.

Education conference will be held Sept. 30 and Oct. 1Keynote speakers include author and educator Ruby Payne, former Razorback basketball player and coach Sidney Moncrief, education expert Tammy Pawlowski and podcaster Kevin Hunt. Molly Hudgens, school counselor and Congressional Medal of Honor Citizens Honor recipient; Chelsey Moore, coordinator of engagement at DESE; Scott Poland, co-director of the Suicide and Violence Prevention Office at Nova Southeastern University, and CJ Huff, co-founder of Bright Futures USA, will lead breakout sessions.

“The conference will equip educators to address some of the most pressing topics in education today, like social emotional learning, violence prevention and overcoming poverty barriers,” TRA Managing Director Emmy Henley said. “We believe every educator will leave with a clear picture of what it really means to be student focused.”

ABOUT BRIGHT FUTURES USA: Bright Futures USA is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing communities together to focus on the success of children. This grassroots movement uses the Bright Futures framework to engage businesses, human service agencies, faith-based organizations, and parent groups within communities to meet the needs of children so every child can be successful, now and in the future.

ABOUT THE ARKANSAS STATE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION: As a state chapter of the Association of American Educators (AAE), the Arkansas State Teachers Association (ASTA) is a statewide non-union, professional educators’ organization, advancing the profession by offering a modern approach to teacher representation and educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda.

ABOUT THE REFORM ALLIANCE: The Reform Alliance (TRA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring every K-12 student in Arkansas has equal access to a world-class education. The Reform Alliance is proud to manage the Succeed Scholarship at no cost to the State of Arkansas. Even small expenses like the cost of mailing checks to schools are paid for by a private foundation grant. Free educational resources and more information about The Reform Alliance are available at thereformalliance.org.

ABOUT THE DIVISION OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION: The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is a division of the Arkansas Department of Education which provides leadership, support and service to schools, districts and communities so every student graduates prepared for college, career, and community engagement.


Faces of Freedom - Cole C.

Faces of Freedom - Cole

We are so grateful for the Succeed Scholarship program. Our son Cole, is visually impaired and just started at Catholic High in August as a direct result of qualifying for the Succeed Scholarship.

Cole would have been attending LR Central High, and we know it would have been very difficult for him based on his low vision. The smaller class sizes at Catholic and increased attention will allow him to succeed and reach his goals – one of them becoming a scientist.

With Cole’s vision, he requires adaptive equipment such as magnifiers, cameras and Braille conversion tools that allows him participate in class and complete his assignments. Financially, acquiring the equipment and the cost of tuition would have been difficult for us. The Succeed Scholarship program is the reason Cole is able to attend Catholic High.

Unlike his experiences in middle school, he is up early and excited about going to school. He is a member of the band and plays the French horn. He also signed up to be a member of the Fitness Team and is very excited to be at Catholic High School.

As parents, we knew the class structure and discipline of Catholic was going to be the right place for Cole. Our goal, also, for Cole is to make him independent and allow him to be successful in college, in his work career and more importantly, as a young man and adult. We know Catholic High School is the right place for him.

Ashley and I are truly thankful that a program like the Succeed Scholarship Program is available and are hopeful this will continue for Cole and other families who have benefited from this school option.

Sincere thanks for your funding and continued support of the the Succeed Scholarship Program.

– Cole, Ashley and Greg, family

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Faces of Freedom - Synicia's Daughter

Faces of Freedom - Synicia's

Hello. My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia while in the kindergarten. I prayed for a school where they taught her the way that she needed to be taught. We found Hannah School. She started there in second grade and has blossomed tremendously. I would not be able to afford to send her there without the help of the Succeed Scholarship. I am a single mom with an autoimmune disorder. … My baby will not survive in a public school. We need your help. Please keep the Succeed Scholarship; it is definitely doing what it is supposed to do … helping families to SUCCEED!

– Synicia, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Faces of Freedom - Cindy's

Faces of Freedom - Cindy's children

Faces of Freedom - Cindy's

I have two special needs kids. If we didn’t have Succeed Scholarships for both of our kids, they would not be able to go to the special school (Easterseals Academy of Riverdale) that they need to function daily and get the one-on-one learning they need. The Succeed Scholarship has given my kids a chance to achieve life skills, get the therapies they need to learn how to do daily independent things (that we all do without thinking) takes them months to learn and maintain. If they would have to leave this school due to not having the Succeed Scholarship, would set them back months or even years to relearn that life skill. So please do not take this life needing scholarship from my children.

– Cindy, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!


Faces of Freedom - Emma

Faces of Freedom - Emma

Faces of Freedom - Emma

Our daughter was really struggling at the elementary level to even grasp the basics of what she was being taught. Even with the IEP assistance, she was falling further behind every year and falling through the cracks in the public school system. We were so fortunate to hear about the Succeed Scholarship and as a result our daughter has been attending Shiloh Christian School (this is her 4th year).

What a difference!! She still struggles because she has learning disabilities, BUT she is doing so much better and she is receiving more one on one help. We know she would never get that much help or support in the public school system. At Shiloh, she is not taking remedial classes, she is enrolled in all the same classes as her peers (Algebra I, Spanish, etc.) and she is performing.

Emma is adopted and has had to overcome so many struggles in life with school and a long list of other things. This scholarship has been a saving grace for her. She has to work so hard, but she is blossoming. I honestly don’t think I would be able to say the same things if we had kept her in public schools. This has made such a huge difference in her life and has changed the course of her life (for the better).

I know there are stories just like Emma’s…kids that are just shuffled around or not given the opportunity to reach their full potential. A lot of kids in public school that struggle academically are just given a free pass or put into easier classes. This scholarship has enabled Emma and others to be challenged, to receive much needed help, to bloom, and to set goals for themselves that they never thought possible. Taking away something like this would be a tragedy.

– Kassi, parent

Click here to learn more about the Succeed Scholarship!