Sunday, May 20, 2018

Concert to Benefit Lake Michigan Academy

I am excited to share an upcoming concert: 

Lake Michigan Academy's 2018 Scholarship Benefit Concert features the Midwest's Premier Funk/R&B Horn Band, The Hip Pocket along with special guest Kelly Carey, as they present "Funkytown: the Best of the 70s!", a celebration of the music of: Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores, KC and the Sunshine Band, Tower of Power, Chicago, and more! 
The purpose of this event is to raise money that will be used to provide scholarships to families who wish to send their children to Lake Michigan Academy (LMA) and Turning Pages. The goal is to provide financial support to families and remove any barriers to accessing the needed instruction.

Why I Care About this Event

Lake Michigan Academy is a private school which I know is a fairly hot topic right now.  I also know that LMA is nothing like a typical private school. LMA is not a parochial school, it is a non-public school for students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD in grades 1-12. Families do not choose to send their students to LMA because they are against public schools or they have any type of political or religious preference; they choose LMA because their children need more direct interaction than traditional classroom teachers and schools can provide. Traditional schools, particularly public schools, cannot operate with class sizes of 4-10 students, but LMA students need that type of environment to be successful. 

Special education and the supports that come through special education are not intended, nor funded, for all students with special needs. Many families are told that their child is doing "well enough" or that their child does not have "enough strengths" or "enough weaknesses" to qualify for support services. Not because teachers and administrators don't care, but because the educational system has to be selective to maximize it's impact with the dollars available. 

Parents and families have a commitment to providing the additional supports when they have a child who needs them, supports like therapies, tutoring, assistive technology, medications and/or finding resources to help them know what supports their child needs. Lake Michigan Academy families make that commitment. Lake Michigan Academy teachers and administrators make the commitment to be part of those solutions for families. [disclaimer: I am back at LMA this year as a consultant, so I suppose I am giving myself a little pat on the back here too!]

All students at LMA are learners with a learning disability in reading, math or writing and/or a learner with ADHD. (LMA is never boring and one of my favorite places to be!) Students come from 21 different school districts in West Michigan from 8 different counties.  Students (and their parents) travel an average of 2,606 miles per semester to attend Lake Michigan Academy and some students can spend up to 2-2/12 hours in the car each day to get to and from school. This is not your typical non-public school! 

LMA families commit to tuition, supplies and the costs of transportation. They often have other children as well, so they balance this commitment with those of other school buildings and districts. LMA has no access to federal or public dollars so all operating funds come from tuition and donations/fundraising. Even so, their staff and Board of Directors work each year to raise funds to provide scholarship to as many families as possible. 

Tuition at LMA is currently $11,000-$13,000 per year per child which is one reason I am so passionate about this event. Tuition is prohibitive to many families whose students would be more successful if they could attend; it also much lower than other schools with the same mission. LMA must have community support to keep tuition as low as possible without sacrificing the quality of staff and materials needed to provide the services and supports these learners need.

Our communities are better places when all individuals can access the supports they need. This concert will help make that happen in West Michigan. I hope to see you there!

To learn more about the event or purchase tickets, visit the LMA Event Site or follow the event on Facebook

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