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Petal parents exemplify meaning of National School Choice Week

Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 5:40 PM CST
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PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - This week is National School Choice Week. That means this week is all about parents having access to resources that inform them on K-through-12th education options for their kids.

From traditional public schools, magnet, private or homeschooling, this is the week parents can evaluate what’s the best option for their kids.

Blaire and Austin Shafer said that’s exactly what they had to do last year.

“After our son was diagnosed with dyslexia, we did a lot of research,” Blaire Shafer said.

She and her husband said their search for an answer to a better education for their son led them to The 3-D School in Petal.

“We are actually from Starkville, Mississippi. We made a big move to bring him down here,” Blaire Shafer said.

The Shafers said they are lucky their jobs allowed them to move to do what was best for their son and for them that’s the 3-D School.

“When we found this school it was kind of a no-brainer and being here has really been a game-changer,” Austin Shafer said.

They spoke about the biggest positive change they have seen in their son since moving to Petal and the 3-D School.

“Confidence has been his biggest change. He is learning the way he learns, which is not how every child learns,” Blaire Shafer said.

Dr. Cena Holifield, executive director of the 3-D school, said the Shafers story is what National School Choice Week is all about, parents having the resources to research and figure out what educational avenue is best for their child.

“Mississippi is so blessed right now because we do have at least two wonderful scholarships for children with learning disabilities: the Dyslexia Scholarship, and the ESA that allows children with IEP to go receive the services they need elsewhere,” Holifield said. “So, if your school is not meeting the needs of your children, you do need to look into other options and opportunities.”

Grant Callen is the founder and CEO of Empower Mississippi, a nonprofit helping Mississippians gain access to high-quality education. Empower is also partnering with National School Choice Week to help celebrate every educational option virtually this year.

“We’ve helped partner with some other organizations in Mississippi to launch a website called MississippiSchoolFinder.org. That’s m-s school finder dot org,” Callen said. “That website is a tool finder for parents to put in their home address or zip code and be able to see a map of every school or education option in their area.”

Callen said this week is not to highlight any schooling option in particular. It’s about kids and helping parents match their child with the best educational setting for them.

Each day this week National School Choice Week and Empower will have virtual events to connect parents with different resources and information. To follow along and keep up with all the info and events go to the Empower Mississippi Facebook page.

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