Making good progress: Josh Bucher, centre, and John Edwards, right, with Bradley Rogers, headmaster at the Gow School in New York. Both boys, from Bermuda, are excelling with their academics and sports at the boarding school for boys with dyslexia. *Photo supplied
Making good progress: Josh Bucher, centre, and John Edwards, right, with Bradley Rogers, headmaster at the Gow School in New York. Both boys, from Bermuda, are excelling with their academics and sports at the boarding school for boys with dyslexia. *Photo supplied
Some parents feel the only way they can get a good education for their children with dyslexia is to pay thousands of dollars for an overseas boarding school. The Bermuda Sun’s Sirkka Huish today speaks to two moms who have taken their teenage sons out of Bermuda’s school system to pay almost three times as much to have them educated at a specialist school in New York. They say little was done by the island’s teachers to help their children who were falling behind with their work.

John Edwards would come home from school in tears because his dyslexia had stripped him of his confidence.

He started attending private tutoring sessions three times a week at the Reading Clinic when he was just six.

But attending Saltus Grammar School was a constant uphill battle for John as he fought to keep up with his classmates.

His grades were good but his struggle with his learning difficulty became all-consuming.

He was told to “get up to grade” to stay at Saltus and he started to lose his confidence.

Unhappy

His parents John and Gillian Edwards knew their son had to change schools to get an education that was right for him.

Mrs. Edwards, of Devonshire, said: “He was getting more and more frustrated at school because he wasn’t absorbing information as quickly as the other children.

“He wanted more help but he was told he wasn’t focusing in class and wasn’t doing his work properly.

“He was just so unhappy — he was being singled out and everyone was looking down on him.

“He’d come home in tears, he’d had enough.

“The damage had been done, he’d been ripped apart.”

John was taken out of Saltus and attended Learning Express Academy for a year.

He regained his confidence there but did not find the work challenging enough.

His parents researched specialist schools and the Gow School in upstate New York was recommended to them. John, now 14, enrolled when he was 12 and he has just started his second academic year.

Mrs. Edwards said: “The Reading Clinic was great but we didn’t think he was getting enough out of Bermuda’s school system.

“We were devastated about having our son leave the island.

“It was so stressful for us all. There was nothing else Bermuda could do for him, we had no choice, it was hard.”

Mr. and Mrs. Edwards believe their son is in “the right place” because the school teaches its students that dyslexia is not something that defines you.

The Gow School is America’s oldest boarding school for boys with dyslexia and has 140 students from 26 states and 24 countries.

The school promises that every student will be accepted into college should they decide to continue with their education.

John is scoring As and Bs in his subjects, represents his year on the school committee and plays squash for the school.

John, who has a 16-year-old sister, Hailey, 16, hopes to become an actuary or an accountant.

Thankful

Mrs. Edwards, who also has dyslexia, said: “Being dyslexic doesn’t mean you are stupid but that’s what some people still think.

“John is very happy at Gow. He’s doing very well indeed.

“We are sorry it came to this but we are happy with the education he is receiving.”

Mrs. Edwards runs Gillian’s Beauty Salon in Devonshire, while her husband runs Otto Wurz on Front Street with his family.

She is thankful they are able to afford The Gow School, saying: “It comes at a price.”

Private schools in Bermuda cost about $17,000 per year compared with about $55,000 per year for the Gow School.

She said: “We are very lucky we have this option. We know not everyone can afford it.

“Those who don’t have the finances have no choice but for their children to stay in Bermuda.”

Parents demand better on-island help for kids with learning difficulties