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Published:June 27th, 2007 13:43 EST
An Encouraging Story About a New Way to Educate

An Encouraging Story About a New Way to Educate

By Carolee Kaufold

A while ago on the news in Florida WINK-TV - Eye on Education - Video - Eye on Education: Charter school is expanding there was this encouraging story about a new way to educate. The school is Goodwill L.I.F.E Academy in Fort Myers, FL. The school offers life skills and promotes independence for trainable or educable mentally handicapped students.

The student highlighted in the story is Brady Matthew Raulerson, 19, from Alva, Florida. I would like to tell you a little about Brady. His mom, Leigh, and I have been Internet friends. Even though we live in the same state, we have never met face to face; but, we have been sharing our lives for 10 years.

After an unfortunate fire engulfed his home is Alva, his mom, dad John and sister Brynne, 17, they were forced to leave the home they just had built especially for them. Leigh was driving Brady to his first day at Goodwill L. I F E. when it happened. It was a good thing no one was home. Their new home is being rebuilt on the same spot and will be ready in a short time. Brady will be glad to return to his home where he has already picked out red, white and blue for his room.

When Brady was on the news, Leigh sent me the News link and I wanted to talk to Brady about his experiences. Brady has been going there for one year and has only good things to say about it, and his teacher, Mr. Matt Booth, has only good things to say about Brady. Booth said, "Brady is the life of the class and his school mates love his jokes and enthusiasm." In school, Raulerson's favorite subjects are P.E. and reading. There are six other students in the class as well as Mrs. Dixon the teacher's helper.

The Principle, Ms Lynn Pottorf, said "The change in the students far exceeds the hopes of the school." She also said, "The school is free and still is open for enrollment. Next year they will start taking children as young as 11 years old. This kind of environment is essential for the mentally handicapped to grow in interdependence."

For Brady it is more than that. He said, "Mr. Booth is a great teacher. He is my main man! I have made a lot of good friends at the school."

On Thursday nights the group "Teens in Action" meet to go bowling, to the movies or mini golf. Raulerson also adds, "It's a lot of fun with my group." Brady likes to listen to his CD's and iPod. He loves music and food. His sports are basketball, riding jet skies and going tubing. He just spent a month at Lake Placid and enjoyed his family and his older brother Eric, 29.

Seeing the story on the news was so encouraging, to know that Goodwill L.I.F.E has a program that helps kids like Brady get a head start on living an independent life is great. It gives peace to all the Leigh's and John's out there who wish only the best for their child.