By Sharon Stevens Education Reporter
Ellisville, MO (KSDK) - It's the first day of classes at a new private school for students with special needs.
The American School serves children from sixth grade through high school in Ellisville, Missouri.
There are only five students per classroom and right now there are only three classrooms, with two teachers and three therapists on staff. Organizers believe the smaller the environment, the better for some students.
Bailey Messmer is one of two students at the American School Middle School.
The newly-opened school specializes in helping children who have Down's syndrome, attention deficit disorder, cerebral palsy and autism.
Bailey's 17-year-old brother Joel is next door in the high school classroom.
The school is operated by the Howard Park Center and Action for Autism. Howard Park services special needs children through 5th grade.
The third classroom is really a cafeteria where children will have art and music classes and learn to cook.
"I think teaching them at the junior high, senior high level will give them the best independence for later in life," said Dawn Casey, the schools' executive director.
The American School is funded by fundraising events, donations and tuition, which is about $1,200 per month. Scholarships are available.