“Finding the right school for any child can be a challenge, but when your child has a disability, that challenge can become even harder.”

Our son, Sam, is hearing impaired and has academic and social challenges. Fortunately, Sam had a really great elementary/middle school experience. He graduated eighth grade from a wonderful school where he grew socially, emotionally, and academically. When we began looking at high schools, we wanted to make sure that he would have the same level of support from faculty, administration, and friends. What we found at Concord Academy more than met our expectations.

For several months, Sam was really nervous about starting a new school. He was concerned that he would not have any friends, the work would be too hard, and that he would be unhappy. I shared his concerns with his teachers at Concord, and within the first week, Sam’s fears were put to rest. The Concord Family, including students, parents, and faculty, have a unique way of accepting students and their family members and bringing out the best in them. This past year we watched Sam continue to grow socially, emotionally, and academically, but he also developed a higher level of confidence and a desire for independence. He is thinking about his future, what he wants to do with his life, and what it is going to take to accomplish his goals.

Concord Academy focuses on more than just academics. Concord provides many opportunities, both in the school and in the community, for students to explore their many interests and talents. One of Sam’s favorite activities this past yearwas volunteering at the Very Special Arts Festival sponsored by Shelby County Schools. This experience allowed Sam and his classmates to be leaders buy helping other students who have profound disabilities. This opportunity allowed them to focus on the needs of others, to work in the community, and to gain a sense of independence.

Another highlight of Sam’s year was the annual talent show which allows students to showcase their talents. We watched so many kids sing, dance, do comedy acts, and play instruments. Sam decided to perform a comedy routine where he had a great time poking fun at his teachers. Sam’s confidence level was beyond anything we had ever seen in a school setting. He was accepted for who he was, and he had a wonderful time. We were ecstatic and so happy for Sam. He would have never had these opportunities at a larger school.

Concord helps the students explore opportunities for life after school. The idea is to prepare students for the future so they can become productive citizens. Concord focuses on educating the whole student, not just the academics,by focusing on what they can do and not what they cannot do. Concord meets students where they are and helps them grow. One morning, this past May, we were riding to school, and Sam looked at me and said, “You know, Mom, I think being at Concord has helped me learn to be a better person.” As parents, we could not ask for anything more! Sam is very happy at Concord, and we are happy he is there. He can’t wait to start the new school year.

— Rob and Melanie Shuster (Sam’s parents)