New Augusta school opening for special needs; combines education and therapy

Saturday, August 3, 2019
News 12 at 11

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- Parents with children who have special needs sometimes have a hard time finding the right school. Across multiple CSRA counties parents say they're having a hard time finding a school that has the teachers and resources equipped to give their kids everything they need. This year there's a new school opening in Augusta to do just that.

Ruthanne Cason is 7-years-old. Her mom takes her to therapy twice a week.

"We found out while I was pregnant with her that she had spina bifida, that's her diagnosis. The most severe form," Donna Cason said.

Up until now Ruthanne's been home-schooled. Donna says their school district could not offer her daughter what she needed, and neither could she with two other kids to take care of. But then she heard of a special school for special students

"I have seen the school, it's amazing," Ruthanne Cason said.

She's talking about Apparo Academy.

"So we're like a school that's married a therapy clinic, that has popped a nursing clinic inside it as well," Jennifer Jones said.

Jennifer is a former speech therapist and now the founder and executive director of Apparo Academy. She says this school was a dream four years in the making.

"The children are not making the gains that they need to make and I just finally realized that something has got to change," Jennifer said.

With special needs kids herself, she understands the challenges that come along with it. She had four boys in three different schools.

"I started realizing that my child just because he is hearing impaired he should not have to get up at 5 O'clock in the morning and be bused 30 minutes away because that's the only school that will except a child with a hearing impairment," Jennifer explained.

Lisa Branon's 4-year-old son Brock will be in this classroom.

"It'll be school and therapy together all day every day, so he's going to get so much more than he was getting at just an hour a week at physical therapy or an hour a week at occupational therapy," Lisa said.

Lisa says it's going to be a weight off her shoulders having Brock's school and therapy all in one place.

"I'm very excited to get to see him get out there and interact with the other kids and play on the playground," Lisa said.

The playground is one of a kind, designed by Jennifer. She says she designed it to help kids meet developmental goals without even knowing it.

"A slide, a firehouse, a firetruck, a doghouse," Ruthanne says with excitement as she talks about the playground at Apparo.

But at $640 a month, some parents worry they can't afford it.

"We looked at the price tag and said well there's no way that's going to happen, we can't afford that," Donna said.

But Ruthanne was eligible for financial aid. Donna says the financial aid was going to pay for the majority of the bill.

"It was like where do we sign," Donna said.

Financial aid also helped Lisa enroll her son Brock. But she says even if it didn't she would make it work.

"We knew no matter what, we were going to have to find the money to bring him here," Lisa said. "I knew it was too important not to."

With an exciting first day approaching, also brings nerves to parents having to hand over their kids for someone else to now take care of and teach.

"It will be hard to drop her off and leave her there all day, but I'm excited to see how she grows," Donna said.

Donna's daughter on the other hand, Ruthanne, says she's ready to start!

"And cut!" Ruthanne said.

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