Charter School Initiatives

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South Carolina Charter School Initiatives

GATES Charter School

An estimated 1 in 5 children have dyslexia with 80 percent of students served under the Specific Learning Disability category having features of dyslexia. There are a number of dyslexia specific schools, private and public, located around the United States. Presently, a group of people are exploring the need for a dyslexia specific public charter school in the Charleston SC, area. Four of the original Planning Committee members met during an Orton-Gillingham (OG) training class – Stephanie Sams, M.A., Alison Hynd, Ph.D., Penny Heater, M.S., and Hope Gresham, B.Ed. The fifth member, Chip Limehouse, a notable former state legislator who is passionate about helping children with dyslexia, met the other four members through the Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina.

Stephanie earned her graduate degree in Clinical Counseling. She has a daughter who was diagnosed with dyslexia. Alison is a pediatric neuropsychologist who worked with children with language and communication disorders. Penny has a graduate degree in Human Resources and HR Law. She has two children with dyslexia. Hope is a teacher and has one child with dyslexia. Chip is a South Carolina native who served in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1995-2017. He owns Limehouse Properties.

As part of the planning process, the Planning Committee has held and will hold Community Interest meetings around the area to help guide possible location, grade level needs, and community support. More meetings will follow in the coming months. Upcoming meeting information will be posted on our Facebook page – Dyslexia Charter/Charleston School for Dyslexia. Please follow us on Facebook. Parents are encouraged to fill out a Parent Interest Form using the link on the FB page; individuals who would like to express support are encouraged to email a personal letter to All the information from the Interest Form and the letters will aid in the charter application process and guide decisions.

PACE Charter School

A group of educators and professionals in Columbia, SC are applying to bring the first tuition-free school for children with dyslexia to the Midlands of South Carolina: Palmetto Achievement Center for Excellence (PACE) Academy. Although there are several options across the state for families of dyslexic children, the only free option is located in Easly, SC, over 2 hours away from the Midlands.

The primary goal of PACE Academy is for all students to learn to read effectively and efficiently. With this goal in mind, PACE will ensure all teachers and classroom assistants are trained in multi-sensory, structured pedagogy, with the Orton-Gillingham Approach and are taught to implement such programs with intensity and fidelity. Teachers and classroom assistants will be provided with training in best practices and curriculum designed to meet the unique needs of dyslexic learners while meeting the needs of all learners. They will also be taught to use assessments to guide and differentiate their instruction to meet the individual needs of all students.

To prepare for our application, several interest meetings were held. More information about our meetings and the status of our application can be found on our website ( and our facebook page ( Families who would benefit from our school are asked to fill out the interest form on our website. Anyone interested in showing their support can email a personal letter of support explaining why you think our school is necessary to This information will be used to prove to the state that there is a need for our school in this area.

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