Proposed charter school to cater to special needs students
Posted October 18, 2013
Updated October 20, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Two Raleigh mothers want to open a charter school that focuses on children with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Dynamic Community Charter School still must get final approval by state officials in January, but Diane Morris and Laura Kay Berry said they hope the school serving students in middle- and high-school grades will open by next August.
"It's a good thing I quit my job. It's been quite an immense amount of work," Morris said.
Both women have sons with autism, and they said that public schools simply lack the resources to work with such students. So, they decided to open a school to better serve them.
"We really felt there was a way to better educate them that would better prepare them for life after school," Morris said.
"We had to think about how to reinvent the wheel – how to teach these kids in a different manner," Berry said.
The school plans to have small classes and do plenty of hands-on activities to help the students learn, she said.
"Each semester, the school will have a project that each of the kids will work on," she said. "We not only expect these kids to continue their education with the academic learning, but we’re teaching them real-life skills within the projects."
The women said other parents and teachers and therapists have helped with plans for the school, which would serve 80 students in its first year and expand in the future. It was one of 26 charter applications given preliminary approval by the State Board of Education this year.
"Somebody asked me recently if I felt like the dog who caught the car, and I said, 'Wow! That’s exactly how I feel,'" Morris said.
The biggest challenge they now face is financial. They need to raise $250,000 to open the school – they still haven't found a site for it – and will have their first fundraiser, including a bake sale and arts and crafts for sale, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, at 3313 Wade Ave. in Raleigh.
Morris and Berry said they are confident they will reach their goal, and they credit their sons for providing the inspiration.
"Because it’s our children, because it’s their future and because I believe they deserve better and can do better," Berry said.
"I felt like I have to do everything I can do right now to create the best possible life for them, and that’s why I did this," Morris said.