“I can’t wait any longer”
The Mississippi Department of Education recently held a midyear lottery for the Education Scholarship Account program.
Over 350 families were hoping to receive a scholarship. Just 90 seats were available. Jamie Farnham, unfortunately, was not lucky enough to be one of the 90.
But even with the disappointing news, Jamie is determined to do what is right for her youngest daughter, Cambry.
Jamie has been an educator for about a decade, working in an exceptional school for children who have severe and profound disabilities in Jackson county. But she recently left her job educating other children to make sure her own daughter gets the education she needs to be successful in life.
Cambry, up until a few days ago, was a 9th grader in the Ocean Springs School District, a district that by all measures is providing an excellent academic experience for most students.
That includes Jamie’s two older children, Makayla and Michael. They are getting everything they need. But Cambry is one of those square peg students who can’t be forced into a round hole.
She has struggled since kindergarten her mom said. By 3rd or 4th grade, she was really struggling. Jamie and Cambry would spend four or five hours a night on homework. To no avail.
She had (and has) an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), but it never outlined specific accommodations. Cambry has a processing and language disorder, but never received dyslexia therapy services that would have benefited her.
So Jamie made the decision to pull Cambry from public school and homeschool her. Jamie homeschooled her for two years and said she experienced about three or fours years of growth during that time, but Cambry wanted to be back in school with her friends.
Without the accommodations she needed, Cambry soon reverted back.
“I would send the district reasonable accommodations from the Department of Education,” Jamie said. “But she never received those accommodations and she was failing before they ever did anything.”
But now the struggles extended beyond academics. Cambry was experiencing health issues. She felt beat down, unsuccessful, sad, and frustrated. This led to behavior issues at school, something that was never a problem when Cambry was younger. She was placed in an alternative school.
She quit doing things she liked such as drawing and playing the guitar.
“She believes now that she can’t do anything,” Jamie added. “She’s convinced she’s going to live with us for the rest of her life and work at Burger King.
“I don’t want her to live with me for the rest of my life.”
So Jamie, once again, is making the sacrifice for her daughter. Knowing that she cannot waste another moment, in the middle of the school year, she quit her job and pulled Cambry from school.
“I’ve given the school many chances to do what’s right, but now I can’t afford to wait any longer,” Jamie said. “Even half way through the year, those months mean a lot to me. Why can’t I wait until May? How much of a difference will it make? I know those three months matter. And do I continue to leave her in a setting where she feels the way she feels?”
Jamie is going to, once again, homeschool Cambry because that is the best option she has. She will receive intense dyslexia therapy services from Gulf Coast Education Solutions. In many ways, they are going back to the basic – phonics, reading, writing.
Though she didn’t receive the ESA, this was the right move.
“I’ve decided to give up my career to help Cambry,” Jamie added. “If I don’t do this, she’s not going to grow up and be successful or be happy. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Just going to make it happen. We may eat ramen noodles but it’s worth it.”
Jamie is determined to make it work. She knows this is the only option. She knows this is what her daughter needs.