Santa visits Growing Minds Center

Published: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 10:07 AM.

The new space – the school’s original site was the fellowship hall at Long Avenue Baptist Church – includes a full kitchen and also several rooms that allow Hermsdorfer and her faculty, she has four Florida State University grad students from the Panama City campus as well as one teacher also on staff, to provide the individual care and education that some students with autism require.

“They have been a big help,” Hermsdorfer said of the FSU students.

Students come from Howard Creek to St. Joe Beach and transportation for most students is provided by Gulf County Transportation.

The students bring to the school state-funded McKay Scholarships, created more than a decade ago to assist parents of children with learning disabilities greater choice and flexibility for educating their child.

At Growing Minds, lessons focus on core subjects such as reading and math, but what is folded in, on an individual basis, are basic life skills. For example, a math lesson may entail understanding a cash transaction, making and receiving change.

“The key is patience and having a sense of humor,” Hermsdorfer said. “You have to have a sense of humor. You have to be creative to get the kids to do what you want and what they need.

“I really enjoy it. Next year I will add three more students.”

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