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Thank you, SMDA

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To The Editor:

Many parents are faced with the difficult task of finding the correct educational environment for their child especially if the child has a learning disability.

Having spent many years away we decided to move back to New York from Maryland. While in Maryland we had significant struggles with the public school system in our efforts to accommodate our child’s educational needs. Originally we relocated to the Rochester area. While there we sent our child to St. Michael’s Catholic School in Newark, where he flourished. After several years we relocated to Ogdensburg in July of 2000 and immediately sought a suitable school for our child who was entering the fourth grade. My husband and I were born and raised in Ogdensburg so we were familiar with the choices. Our older children had both attended public schools in Ogdensburg and St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy when they were younger. Our school selections were never based on religion, as our family is not Catholic, but on the educational needs of our children.

Having concerns about our child’s learning disabilities we approached both the public school in our area and St. Marguerite D’Youville Academy for tours and information. We were received at the public school after several attempts like we were a burden and questions were answered in a general manner, leaving us without a clear vision of what would be provided for our son. We then went to St. Marguerite’s for a tour where we were met with enthusiasm and kindness. We were shown the entire school, informed of what was provided and what services our son would receive. Their exact words were,”Don’t worry, leave it to us.” To say the least we were a little skeptical as it all seemed too good to be true.

Our child entered St. Marguerite’s in the fourth grade. St. Michael’s was a much larger school that went through the eighth grade.At the time of entry to St. Marguerite’s we were lucky because the school extended classes through the sixth grade. This allowed our child to attend an additional year. Our expectations were not only met, but greatly exceeded our child’s needs. Our child flourished in the caring, attentive, loving and structured environment. It was a family that cared and provided every need for the child on an individual basis. As an aside, our child had a classmate that the public school could not handle and was accepted at St. Marguerite’s as a student in need. His needs were met, he participated as a member of the class and he graduated.

After sixth grade and graduation from St. Marguerite’s our child entered the seventh grade in our local public school. We had an extremely difficult time the entire seventh grade trying to get the school to understand our child’s needs and provide the necessary educational support programs he required. The year had to be repeated. We were met with comments saying, “This is not the Catholic school, and we do not provide the services they do.” We knew this not to be true. We fought for seven years to make sure our child would be successful and graduate. It was a constant battle. A couple of the teachers were extremely helpful, but for the most part, no one seemed to care if our child was successful or not. Most of the needed services we acquired were acquired by us from outside resources with very little assistance from the school. In order to have no child left behind, you have to take them with you to start with.

We have recommended St. Marguerite’s to many friends, relatives and new citizens of Ogdensburg over the years. They have never failed to deliver and exceed the needs of the child. Thank God we have this caring, loving and dedicated institution available to us. A special thank you to Mrs. Burns and her wonderful staff for all they have done and all they do. We have many more children that need your assistance. God Bless you all!

Sheila LaMere

Ogdensburg

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