A parent’s story: How a Georgia tax credit scholarship changed my grandson’s life

The Academy of Innovation in Gainesville, Georgia, strengthens the learning skills of students who struggle in a traditional classroom setting, including those who are dealing with specific learning disorders such as dyslexia and ADHD, and helps them succeed in any learning environment.

Editor’s note: This first-person essay from Georgia grandmother Martha Megahee was adapted from the American Federation for Children’s Voices for Choice website.

Martha Megahee

My grandson Grayson has attended the Academy of Innovation in Gainesville, Georgia, since he was 8 years old. The academy is a private school that helps children like Grayson who have had reading and learning challenges. Grayson, who is now 15, has been fortunate to attend the academy on a tax credit scholarship.

The Georgia Private School Tax Credit law allows eligible private citizens and corporations to receive tax credits for donations to scholarship funding organizations, which provide scholarships to parents of eligible children who want to attend private schools. For our family and for many others, these tax credit scholarships are a godsend.

Grayson contracted bacterial meningitis when he was just shy of 2 years old. The doctors told us that if he managed to live for 9 hours, he might survive. I was living in Richmond, Va., at the time. I got to Georgia as quickly as I could to be with Grayson, who lived through that first 9 hours but lost hearing in one ear and needed physical therapy to learn to walk again.

Once he recovered, he did not appear to be cognitively impaired, but we were told we wouldn’t know if he would have learning disabilities until he started school. We did know even then that he was hyperactive and had anger management issues. We enrolled him in a private school for kindergarten and first grade, but that’s when the problems began.

School staff had to pry him out of the car in the carpool lane because he refused to go to his classroom. His mom would have to come to get him most days before noon because he was so disruptive. We decided to have Grayson tested at Emory University and learned he had severe ADHD and probably was dyslexic. We didn’t know where to turn.

Then we found out about the Academy of Innovation. The academy started in 2007 and grew out of a tutorial service with about 20 students. The staff take a personalized approach to teaching children in grades 1 through 12 using research-based teaching methods to individually address the needs of students like my grandson who face learning barriers.

Grayson was able to start his journey there by attending a summer program and we enrolled him in the fall. His turnaround was miraculous. Before the Academy of Innovation, he hated school so much. He felt like a failure every day. But it wasn’t long after he got to the academy that he was reading beyond his grade level.

Grayson became interested in computers and can now envision a career in IT. He feels good about himself. He feels successful. He is successful. And it’s all thanks to Academy of Innovation and a tax credit scholarship. We will be forever grateful.

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