Fortune Academy: Celebrating 20 Years of Transforming Lives
Writers / Maura Higgs & Maria Smietana
Photography Provided by Abigail Pittman Photography
When J.C. was getting ready to make the transition to junior high, his parents were determined to find a school where he could experience a true sense of belonging. They wanted J.C. to have a normal school experience, whether that meant building meaningful friendships, participating in extracurricular activities, seeing an attainable path to graduation, or not sticking out because of differences, but rather being celebrated for them.
When the Seay Family found Fortune Academy, father of the family, James Seay, said there is a greater sense of community and a clear path of success for J.C., something he had not experienced before. J.C. is now involved in Anime Club, basketball, and theater. He’s even had a chance to participate in a play. Not to mention, he has made quite a few friends!
When J.C.’s siblings Payton, Taylor, and Ethan were younger, they didn’t understand J.C.’s challenges. “They thought it was just their younger brother being annoying,” Lisa says. “However, as they began to mature, they better understood that the annoying things J.C. was doing were not intentional. We had to help them understand that he processes things differently. J.C. has issues understanding nonverbal cues which leads to him misreading/misunderstanding interactions and situations.”
The siblings have become J.C.’s biggest protectors and allies. “When it was time to transition J.C. from elementary to middle school, they were the strongest proponents for alternative education, pushing us to look at [non-traditional] schools,” Lisa says.
James and Lisa describe J.C.’s current experience at Fortune Academy as a prayer answered. “We had to realize we needed to be patient and have a plan,” James adds. He wants parents of special needs children to remember that “you cannot compare your child to others. Each of their journeys stands on its own.”
The Seay family experience is not unlike many others. 1 in 5 students are affected by dyslexia, 1 in 30 have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, and more than 40% of students with language-based learning differences are improperly placed in special needs programs that aren’t addressing their needs. Fortune Academy is home to these students.
At Fortune Academy, we know that students with Language-Based Learning Differences come from all demographics. Currently, only 20% of students receive scholarships to afford Fortune Academy — more is needed. There are many more students who need us. Please consider donating to Fortune Academy’s scholarship fund so that, together, we can help more students with language-based learning differences receive the education they deserve.
For more information about the Fortune Academy, give them a call at 317-377-0544 or visit them online at thefortuneacademy.org.