At 9 months of age my son Jake, had his first seizure. We had no idea what we were experiencing and little did we know that we were going to be thrown into the world of epilepsy. We went through several medications, the Ketogenic Diet and eventually opted to have brain surgery at Cleveland Clinic in March 2004. He still deals with seizures on a regular basis (and accompanying side effects of medication) but they are mild in comparison to the ones pre-surgery and more manageable.
Throughout our time within the San Diego school system, we worked hard to find Jake a suitable school placement. He was placed in the early SEEC program at age 3. At age 5 we moved into the non severe special ed day program. Jake never attended his home school, we drove him all over SD County to where we felt was the program/school that fit him best. As parents of children either in Special Ed or who have learning disabilities, I am sure you are familiar with having to fight tooth-and-nail to get your child the services they need and require to succeed at school. The IEP’s were a battle. We managed to get Jake the OT, Speech and APE therapies that were so needed. Due to his medical situation we were able secure a 1:1 aide who was assigned to assist Jake in the classroom and on campus.
Over the years, with budget cuts, things rapidly deteriorated with, eventually the non severe special ed day program being dismantled and replaced with a “throw every kid that doesn’t fit” into one program regardless of their diagnosis! When Jake moved to Middle School and 6th grade, we knew it was time for a change. The search was on to find a new school for my son, and fast, before all our years of hard work were undone!
We searched SD County for schools that specialized in learning disabilities and visited several. When we visited Excelsior Academy, it felt like we had arrived home!! Here was the wonderful, safe, caring, nurturing and quality environment that I wanted my son to be involved with, a place where he could flourish and reach his full potential. Unfortunately, most children only get moved to an appropriate placement after they have failed and are floundering in the Public school system. Excelsior’s attention to detail means that your child really DOES get an INDIVIDUAL EDUCATION PROGRAM built specifically for them. The small class sizes with Special Ed teachers and aides allow the children to get the focus and attention they deserve. There are wonderful support services, OT, speech therapists and counselors who are on hand every day. Focus is put on literacy, socialization, respect, independence and responsibility. There is also a transition program to help your child after graduation. Excelsior also has a great athletics program and team; The Eagles, an extended summer program plus a Spring Formal and a Holiday party each year. Excelsior is a National School of Character and a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.
Jake is now 20, and finishing his high school career. For us personally, EA has been an instrumental part of Jake’s life and has made going to school an exciting and pleasant experience for him instead of a painful one. EA has also given him opportunities to do and achieve things that he would never have been able to do in the public school system. His academic work has jumped several grade levels and he continues to thrive both academically and socially. I cannot stress the difference it has made in Jake’s life and my life, as a parent of a special needs child with learning disabilities.
Excelsior Academy redefines the meaning of Special Education in a private school setting.
Jake will graduate with his High School Diploma in June of 2016. He has been accepted to the College 2 Career program at Miramar College where he will study science to pursue a career in Animal Care and Health.