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A new school aimed at helping children with dyslexia will be coming to the Upstate next year. Lakes and Bridges Charter School will be a free public school located in the Upstate and will be open to any child across South Carolina with this specific type of learning process.

Anderson and Oconee counties, along with the City of Clemson, proclaimed October to be Dyslexia Awareness Month, shedding some light on this little-understood learning difference that can affect one in five people. All three councils also gave their support for a local school set up to help children with dyslexia reach their full potential.

Heidi Bishop is currently the project manager for the school, but will be the founding principal once the school opens. She said the charter school will kick off in the fall of 2018 with grades one through five. She said the school can accommodate 110 children with their initial plan, and they will be adding grades each year up to eighth grade.

“We’ve developed this charter school because public school is doing a poor job of working with students with reading issues, particularly dyslexia,” Bishop said.

According to Bishop, many families are already interested in Lakes and Bridges. She said one family has already committed to moving to the Upstate from Indiana so their daughter can attend the school. Families from the mid-west, Georgia and across South Carolina are also looking to relocate so their children can attend the school.

Nancy Linvill is the head of the board for Lakes and Bridges and she has worked with dyslexic children as a teacher for many years. She said mainstream schools are not properly equipped to handle students with dyslexia. After learning a new method of teaching these students, she said they began to excel in her classroom.

“My students began to do better and apply for colleges, it was amazing. They had been in the special needs class,” Linvill said.

The method, called the Orton-Gillingham Method, gives teachers a new way to approach teaching a dyslexic child and helps stimulate more areas of the brain. Linvill said her students’ success wasn’t due to her, but due to using this way of teaching. This is also the method that will be used at the charter school.

Currently Lakes and Bridges does not have a location, but Bishop reports it will likely be in Pickens County, preferably in the Easley area.

Lakes and Bridges will be funded for three years from a grant provided by the South Carolina Department of Education, as well as receive federal funds based on a per-student allotment.

Open enrollment begins Nov. 1, 2017, and ends January 31, 2018, for children who will be in first through fifth grade for the 2018-19 school year. For more information, go to lakesandbridges.org.

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