SC

Miracle Factories: “Hidden Treasure”

No two students are alike … and in a truly competitive academic environment, no two schools would be alike either. Of course we don’t have a truly competitive academic environment in South Carolina, we have a bunch of cookie cutter failure factories run by an amalgamation of federal, state and…

No two students are alike … and in a truly competitive academic environment, no two schools would be alike either.

Of course we don’t have a truly competitive academic environment in South Carolina, we have a bunch of cookie cutter failure factories run by an amalgamation of federal, state and local bureaucrats. While sitting on $1 billion in cash reserves, these government-run schools constantly complain about a “lack of funding” as they slip further behind the rest of the nation.

And there’s no end in sight … and no alternatives for parents.

Well, we take that back … there are alternatives, it’s just that government is doing everything within its power to quash them so it can preserve its monopoly (even though its schools aren’t serving students’ needs).

Recently FITS wrote on The Barclay School, a North Columbia, S.C. learning center that specializes in educating children with special needs. This is one of the few areas of the education marketplace state lawmakers have (belatedly) embraced – although the limited tax credit legislation passed last year is a temporary proviso that is already coming under attack by the state’s bipartisan liberal establishment.

Last week we wrote about Glenforest School – which received a visit from pro-parental choice S.C. Senator Katrina Shealy.

This week’s “Miracle Factory?” Hidden Treasure – a Christian special needs school based in Greenville, S.C.

FITS visited this school recently and we were blown away – not only by the school, but by its students … and its story.

Hidden Treasure was founded in 1981 by Baptist Pastor John Vaughn after his daughter (and wife) suffered severe injuries in a house fire.

Vaughn’s wife Brenda suffered third degree burns over 60 percent of her body in the blaze, while his daughter Becky suffered third degree burns over 95 percent of her body. Brenda was hospitalized for nine months while Becky was hospitalized for thirteen months (and has undergone more than fifty surgeries since).

“I realized that nothing would ever be the same,” Vaughn wrote in his 1994 book More Precious Than Gold.

Vaughn went in search of an academic environment capable of responding to his daughter’s special needs – but couldn’t find one. Eventually, he was told “if you want (to find) a school for your little girl you’re going to have to start one yourself.”

And so he did … with two students. In a fifty-by-fifty foot metal building. With only one person (himself) on staff.

Today Hidden Treasure serves more than forty students with various exceptional needs (Autism, Asperger’s, Down Syndrome) at a sprawling 28,000-square foot campus near downtown Greenville, S.C. Its state-of-the-art facility is immaculate, a testament to the support the school has received over the years from corporate and philanthropic donors like Bi-Lo and the French Foundation in Florida.

In fact one entire wing of the school was dedicated thanks to an anonymous $400,000 gift.

For the past thirty years, the school has been run by John McCormick – who makes no bones that his is a “God-called” mission.

“It’s a ministry, not a job,” McCormick says. “We take these students one step at a time to where their potential lies. There’s nothing standardized about it.”

Families from all over the country (including California and Nevada) have moved to Greenville to receive this specialized instruction.

(via Hidden Treasures)
(via Hidden Treasure)

“It’s safe here, it’s a safe environment,” one parent said.

It’s certainly safer than the government-run school system, where students with special needs are routinely bullied and abused (even in good ol’ God-fearing Greenville, S.C.).

“We had one kid come in from the public system with a broken arm,” McCormick recalls.

Hidden Treasure doesn’t take “vouchers,” incidentally – or any other government checks.

“We would not be who we are if we did that,” McCormick says.

Along with Hidden Treasure, McCormick runs Faith Christian Academy – which was founded in 2008 to serve students with learning disabilities in math, reading and language (like ADD and ADHD, among others).

“We know these are children who have the ability to go on to college,” McCormick says.

Both schools are located on the Hidden Treasure campus.

Obviously, providing a world-class special needs curriculum (in a state-of-the-art facility) isn’t cheap – as the average tuition at Hidden Treasure is approximately $9,500. Still, though, that’s more than $3,000 less than the average per pupil cost incurred by the failed government-run system … for a “normal” kid.

There’s also plenty of room at Hidden Treasure, which could double its current student population (and still have room for more students).

In fact McCormick tells FITS he’s hoping the recently passed tax credit will help his school boost its enrollment.

We hope so, too …

“This is a perfect example of a choice school that has capacity,” one education reform advocate told FITS. “It can help many more families if choices in the current law are maintained, expanded.”

Born out of a personal tragedy, Hidden Treasure has become a “Miracle Factory” – one with the potential to dramatically expand its mission assuming South Carolina parents are allowed to keep more of what they earn for the purpose of investing in their child’s education.

That ought to be their right under any circumstances … but especially given the deplorable failure of the Palmetto State’s government-run school system.

NOTE: For more on Hidden Treasure, click on the link below. For more schools serving South Carolina students with exceptional needs, visit IndependentEd.org.

HIDDEN TREASURE (Official Site)

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18 comments

The Colonel November 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Okay Will you win, we’ll shut down all the special needs programs in the state and let you and Howie run them for us.
Then what do we do with the other 650,000 students in the state? What do we do with the kids who are only there cause the law says so? What do we do with the talented and gifted kids who don’t have a pot to piss in and if it wasn’t for the school and the bus, they’d have no opportunity to develop their talent?

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Howie Rich's Neighbor November 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Damn Colonel,you sound almost like a Democrat,

What’s wrong?

You pissed that Fits attacked you and other soldiers the other day?

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Your own reality November 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm

It’s amazing what constitutes an “attack”. He talked about their mission(s) being BS propaganda pieces(and most of them probably truly “believe” and don’t see it for what it is), he didn’t call them turds-I think the specific word was “misguided”.

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Howie Rich's Neighbor November 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Gee the ol Colonel is just “misguided” eh.

Whatever!

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Your own reality November 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Actually, no he’s not. Maybe he started in a place where he was(I don’t know), but it’s clear he sees things for what they are now:

“Hopefully, we have finally learned that not everyone wants to be free. I’ve come to the conclusion that we would have been better off just flattening every city in Afghanistan and all of the terrorist training camps and then getting the hell out.”

here’s another one:

“Few of us like how things have worked out – nothing would make me happier than to have left Iraq and Afghanistan embracing freedom – sadly, that ain’t gonna happen.”

So do you think “The Colonel” views represent most in the military’s?

How on God’s green earth would they ever get a new enlistment if they were exposed to people like The Colonel beforehand, who is clearly seeing things for what they are even if when he entered he might not have been and had more altruistic reasons?

The Colonel November 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm

Hardly, in fact, I favor vastly expanded school choice just not the totally lazier faire version Folks tosses out there for his boy Howie. The problem with Will’s “success stories” is that the represent small groups of kids where the parents are extremely interested in their kid’s success and invest the time energy and money that not all or even most could or would do.
There will always be a need for “gubamint skrewls” and there is a place for a tax write off for primary education. Folks acts like both can’t or shouldn’t exist. The competition would make both better but realize that there are parent who could care less either way, they’ll be after whatever’s cheaper.

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Howie Rich's Neighbor November 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm

I agree totally with your first paragraph.

Thats the problem with Howie and. Fits.These “success” stories highlight schools where the parents are motivated and involved with their kids.

Wish all were.Sadly, thats not reality.

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MashPotato November 11, 2013 at 1:34 pm

You speak as if you’re part of some minority that cares about education, and no one else does. Everyone cares. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t tolerate the wasteful system that barely educates or keeps kids safe.

Talented and gifted kids don’t need a gifted program at a huge school. They need one on one mentoring to develop their skills at their pace. There is no other way to maximize their talents.

You think the bus is the only way to get to school? You know they don’t even have seat belts, right? If no public schools exist, private schools could easily open up on any street corner, bringing the school closer to the families. They could also negotiate hours that fit with each family’s schedule. And for rural students, the bus is still an option. More options is ALWAYS better.

The biggest point here is that public schools get a guaranteed cash flow of taxpayer dollars. Private schools have to earn it. That’s why they are far more attentive to the needs of individual students and families.

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The Colonel November 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm

My point is and always has been that there is a need for both a conventional public school system and the ability to take your dollars and go else where. The kid who needs the bus is just that, a kid who couldn’t get to school with out bus and yes plenty of them exist. Their parents could care less about their education and would only do whatever was cheapest – if you don’t believe those parents exist, explain the “corridor of shame”.
When I’m not playing Army, I spend about 100 days a year in high schools all over our state. I get to see first hand the talent development programs and the mainstream kids as well. Our schools on average aren’t that bad but when you factor in the schools along I-95, the number go down faster than a hooker in a hurry.
You are correct when you say more options is better because it forces all providers to improve or perish. However, there will always be a need for the default solution – a standard public school.

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The Colonel November 11, 2013 at 2:50 pm

My point is and always has been that there is a need for both a conventional public school system and the ability to take your dollars and go else where. The kid who needs the bus is just that, a kid who couldn’t get to school with out bus and yes plenty of them exist. Their parents could care less about their education and would only do whatever was cheapest – if you don’t believe those parents exist, explain the “corridor of shame”.
When I’m not playing Army, I spend about 100 days a year in high schools all over our state. I get to see first hand the talent development programs and the mainstream kids as well. Our schools on average aren’t that bad but when you factor in the schools along I-95, the number go down faster than a hooker in a hurry.
You are correct when you say more options is better because it forces all providers to improve or perish. However, there will always be a need for the default solution – a standard public school.

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MashPotato November 11, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Taxes are the inability to take your dollars elsewhere. Anything funded by them is a scam.

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The Colonel November 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

if you’re not paying them as in “take your deduction” then there’s no scam.

Seahawk November 11, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Thank you for spotlighting these schools. I have been to the Barclay School, and was so impressed.I also know that Glenforest has a wonderful reputation. Have you been to Sandhills School? They are 1 of 8 nationally accredited schools that teach the Orton Gillingham Method of reading. They are truly a treasure for kids with Learning Differences.

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johnq November 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

By all means send your kids there but don’t expect govt. to fund it.

Taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for slackjawed mouthbreathing racists to segregate their kids nor should they enrich corporate cheats trying to profit off racist sentiments in this shithole of a state.

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Joe Anderson November 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm

The entire state of SC is special needs.

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nitrat November 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Wanna bet most of these little disabled students receive Medicaid and this school bills Medicaid for their special needs services/classes?

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Philip Branton November 12, 2013 at 10:52 am

Well, we hope that Wil Folks is wise enough to move and set up a special wing at this hub of “learning” to be the professor of “new media”. Just imagine Wil interviewing a child about the needs that Lindsey Graham has failed on. Just imagine Wil asking a child about the lack of Landfill awareness that Tim Scott is silent upon. WOW….it would be better than a wireless carrier commercial.

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Padrepio November 12, 2013 at 2:48 pm

May God bless these little wounded angels.

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