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Happy Camper School helps students with learning disabilities thrive

Posted at 6:02 PM, Jul 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 22:11:25-04

BRAZOS COUNTY, TX — Learning to read is a critical part of a child's experience in school.

While students with dyslexia face more challenges, a school opening in College Station is dedicated to breaking down those barriers

When Tara Hott, who has dyslexia, started going to Happy Camper School last year, she was at a first-grade reading level.

"At the end of last year, she went from first grade to a fifth-grade reading level, which she is in the fifth grade now," Charissa Hott, Tara's mom said.

The school boosted Tara Hott's reading skills and confidence.

"Every day whenever I go to public school, I feel very nervous to go because I feel like I am going to fail a test or something, but whenever I go to Happy Camper School, I feel like I am going to get 100," Tara Hott said.

Now she even finds reading enjoyable.

"I like that I am learning from reading but I don't notice it so I am also having a good time," Tara Hott said.

Ross Gunnels saw a similar transformation when his son started working with the founder of the school.

"When he worked with Kristen and he got the confidence and really made progress reading it was kind of revolutionary for us," Gunnels said.

Kristen Pitts is the founder of Happy Camper School.

The school opened in Caldwell last year but moved to College Station. The first day of school is Aug 17.

Her passion to help students with dyslexia started in her first year of teaching. One of her students was repeating the first grade.

"I felt like he was this really smart kid. He understood jokes his other classmates didn't understand. He had this really brilliant sense of humor and yet he couldn't read," Pitts said.

Finding out her two daughters also have dyslexia inspired her to open the private school to help even more students turn a new page in their lives.

All kids want to learn how to read books that are interesting to them. But kids with dyslexia have a little bit more a challenge because they need to find these interesting books that are also decodable.

"With these books, we are actually teaching them to rely on the decoding strategies that they've been taught so if they've learned closed syllables, for example, they know that the "A"with the consonant after is going to make that 'ahhh' sound, and it's consistent and reliable," Pitts said.

These books come at a hefty price, putting the tuition at 12,000 per student.

Pitts is trying to offset the cost by launching her non-profit, Brazos Valley Dyslexia league, and asking donors to sponsor a student.

Here is a link to their Facebook page for more information.