At the public hearing of the South Carolina Charter School District Board of Trustees’ meeting in Columbia, S.C., on April 6, Lakes and Bridges Charter School was granted a charter, meaning the school has been approved by the board to open and receive state funds.
Lakes and Bridges Charter School will be a mission-specific school to serve children with reading challenges, especially those with dyslexia. The school plans to open in the Tri-County Area in fall of 2018 for grades 1-5, expanding to grades 1-8 in the following years.
“Receiving our charter is a welcome sign of approval after years of hard work,” remarked Nancy Linvill, chair of the Lakes and Bridges founding committee. “Our team has been working on the idea of this school for over two years, and many of us have been teaching these kids for decades, so this charter is the result of years of dedication and a vision for improving education for all students, especially children with dyslexia.”
As noted in Lakes and Bridges’ charter application presentation, over 66 percent of South Carolina fourth graders cannot read on grade level. In the five Anderson school districts plus Pickens and Oconee school districts, an average of 51.27 percent of third graders cannot read on grade level. The percent of students who cannot meet reading standards sharply increases for students who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for learning disorders like dyslexia.
“The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity estimates that 1 in 5 children have dyslexia,” added Susan Dooley, a former teacher and current committee member. “Dyslexia is an unexpected difference in reading ability and intelligence. In other words, these children are bright, but their brains require them to learn reading in ways different than what we’re seeing in standard classrooms. Lakes and Bridges will use evidence-based, multi-sensory tools based strongly on the Orton-Gillingham approach to effectively teach reading to all children.”
Lakes and Bridges will be a free, public charter school. While all children in South Carolina can apply to attend, admissions will be weighted to those who show signs of dyslexia and related reading challenges at an initial screening or with an IEP. The school does not yet have a set location, though they are considering buildings in Clemson, Central and Easley.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” beamed Lawson Clary, a committee member and a pastor in Easley. “My family will no longer have to pay tuition for our children to receive the educational services that Lakes and Bridges can provide. This school will forever change my family and our community.”
Now that the school has an official charter, work can begin on hiring a school leader, choosing and preparing a building, and moving forward for the fall 2018 opening. The school will also soon start fundraising efforts to supplement state funds. Those interested in donating to the school may contact Nancy Linvill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The founding committee for Lakes and Bridges Charter School is comprised of
Nancy Linvill (chair) of Clemson, Adam Artigliere of Clemson, Lawson Clary of Easley, Susan Dooley of Clemson, Bonnie Kelley of Six Mile, Claiborne Linvill of Clemson, Harriet Simmons of Clemson, Carolyn Stroup of Seneca, Debbie Vaughn of Clemson, and Bud Webb of Clemson (honorary member). These members will serve as the first Board of Directors of the school until a new board is elected during the school’s first semester in operation.
“We have seen an overwhelming amount of support for our school,” said Bonnie Kelly, a local tutor for students with dyslexia. “We are so excited to return home to the Upstate to tell everyone that we have the charter. We can and will open this school. And we can and will improve reading for all children in our area.”
C. Claiborne Linvill