BY CINDE INGRAM ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER
HIGH POINT — The Piedmont School was the first stop Monday morning for Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina as the Raleigh-based advocacy group kicked off its celebration of National School Choice Week.
Darrell Allison, president of PEFNC, presented a $300 donation to Head of School Tim Montgomery to support The Piedmont School’s high school program expansion. School choice advocates from PEFNC also gave yellow scarves to k-12th grade students during their tour of the school on Old Mill Road.
“Tim Montgomery and the team here are just doing an incredible job,” said Brian Jodice, executive vice president of PEFNC. “They’ve got a robust student population in kids with special needs.”
Nearly all students at The Piedmont School are of average or above average IQ, but many have learning disabilities and/or Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder that make it more difficult for them to learn in regular classrooms, Montgomery said. By offering a 1-6 student/teacher ratio, students learn required content along with strategies of how to learn that suit their individual needs. Classes are blended based on skill level rather than grade level, he said. Students are allowed to move around within classes.
“What we try to do is unlock learning for these kids because we all have different ways that we learn,” Montgomery said. “Teachers are constantly changing mode of instruction.”
After touring The Piedmont School, PEFNC members planned to visit schools in Elkin and Yadkin Valley. “We’re here to really just shed a light on the different educational models we have around the state,” Jodice said. “We were just really drawn to The Piedmont School the first time we came here. You know when you show up somewhere and it feels right?”
Nearly half of the 93 students at The Piedmont School receive the Children with Disabilities Grant, Montgomery said. That CWD grant pays up to $8,000 per year for tutoring, educational therapy and other needs, PEFNC Outreach Director Allison Guenther said. Another 10 students participate in the Opportunity Scholarship Program Grant, which pays up to $4,200 per year for students with disabilities. PEFNC visited The Piedmont School in mid-November to inform parents about the newly established Special Needs Education Savings Account (ESA). The Piedmont School offers all three scholarships to eligible families, and the OSP and ESA application period opens Feb. 1.
In Guilford and surrounding counties, more than 1,212 students receive Opportunity scholarships to attend area private schools and 234 students benefit from the Disabilities Grant, Jodice said. Guilford County alone has 22 private schools registered to enroll OSP students, and 21 private schools are registered to enroll CWD students.