An “Exceptional” Visit to a Special School

March 20, 2015


This past Tuesday, a room filled with expectant faculty, parents, and students eagerly celebrated with two very special students at Hidden Treasure Christian School, a school for students with mental, physical, emotional, and developmental disabilities.   

Joined by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a long-time champion of tax credit scholarships for students with special needs in his home state, these two students received life-changing checks, thanks to South Carolina’s new Exceptional Needs Tax Credit Scholarship.   

These scholarships will allow them to afford to stay at Hidden Treasure and receive an education that meets their unique needs and equips them to reach their full God-given potential. What a joyful celebration!

As Hidden Treasure headmaster Dr. John McCormick said, the staff at Hidden Treasure believe that “every child has been designed by God for a special purpose,” and Hidden Treasure seeks to help children with extraordinary needs realize that purpose.

After several other speakers touted the transformational power of school choice, Mr. Bush moved to the front of the room. The “need to make sure that all of our precious children are able to reach their maximum potential” was the central theme of his message. Mr. Bush further explained that allowing children to reach their maximum potential can only be accomplished by making the “move to a child-centered educational system.”

He further confirmed his support of the school’s mission by stating that he “completely agree(s) that life is a blessing, and that God has given us the ability to succeed.” After finishing his remarks, Mr. Bush took several questions from the students and parents, and participated in the presentation of scholarship checks by the Advance Carolina and D.E.S.K. scholarship funding organizations to students of Hidden Treasure. Several faculty of Hidden Treasure then guided Mr. Bush on a tour of the school’s building and Becky Vaughn, the school’s first student, presented him with a book sharing her amazing life story.

Bush’s interest in the school is far deeper than a campaign trail photo-op. While governor, he implemented  numerous key school reforms that radically improved Florida’s education system. These changes included a huge special needs tax credit scholarship program (a model for South Carolina’s much smaller program), an easy to understand school grading system, an increase in virtual schools, an intensive focus on 3rd grade reading (like South Carolina’s Read to Succeed plan), and a host of new incentives for good teachers and alternative paths for teacher certification.

While Palmetto Promise differs with Mr. Bush on the issue of Common Core, his proven track record as an innovative leader with the ability to get things done on behalf of Florida students as Governor can’t be denied.

Briley Hughes is a senior at Bob Jones and a Communications Intern with Palmetto Promise Institute.