Bryant talks special needs students at exceptional children conference
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - An exceptional conference about exceptional children is how Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant described Thursday morning's state-wide conference in Biloxi.
The focus was on students who may need a little more help than others.
Most of the crowd attending the Mississippi Council for Exceptional Children Conference were teachers who work with gifted children or children with special needs.
"The things that we've seen are only about 23 percent of special needs children are graduating from high school, and that's just unacceptable," Bryant said.
He believes helping children understand that they may learn differently from other students is important, and it has a special meaning to him. He grew up with dyslexia.
"I got to the fourth grade and found a wonderful teacher that identified the problem and said, 'You are not dumb.' That was an amazing, enlightening moment, because I thought I was," Bryant said.
He says he understands the frustration a child may have thinking they aren't smart, but he wants every educator and administrator in the audience to understand it too, so they can be better teachers and give their gifted students a boost of confidence when it comes to learning.
"What I want to tell the children is they can achieve. They can do remarkable things, and these teachers and these administrators you see today are the ones that are going to help them get there," Bryant said.
Bryant says state leaders are working on bills right now to help bring Mississippi's education system to the top.
"It's during the legislative session, so we're working hard now to continue to expand this. We're working on a special needs bill, so we need help furthering these children, these particular classrooms with special needs. These exceptional children are something we all must dedicate ourselves to," Bryant said.
Helen Irlen was Thursday's keynote speaker. She identified a visual perception disorder 30 years ago, and that was determined recently to be what Bryant has.
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