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School for dyslexic students outgrows old building

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Teacher Jessica Northcutt assists Lilly Cook, 6, and Cooper Patton, 6, with learning about 3D shapes at Sage School in Suwanee last week. Sage School is the only school in Gwinnett County that specializes in children with dyslexia and other language and speech difficulties.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Teacher Jessica Northcutt assists Lilly Cook, 6, and Cooper Patton, 6, with learning about 3D shapes at Sage School in Suwanee last week. Sage School is the only school in Gwinnett County that specializes in children with dyslexia and other language and speech difficulties.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Art teacher Janine Kass gives paint to students Tyler Henderson, 11, and Britt Joslin, 11, during their art class at Sage School in Suwanee. Sage School is the only school in Gwinnett County that specializes in children with dyslexia and other language and speech difficulties.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Students Brielle Campos, 8, sounds out "sight words" with classmate Lucy Cartin, 8, at Sage School in Suwanee. Sage School is the only school in Gwinnett County that specializes in children with dyslexia and other language and speech difficulties.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Teacher Sherry Cannon talks with students about their introduction paragraph during writing class at Sage School in Suwanee. Sage School is the only school in Gwinnett County that specializes in children with dyslexia and other language and speech difficulties.

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Jessica Baso, 11, works on her introduction paragraph of a persuasive argument during writing class at Sage School in Suwanee. Sage School is the only school in Gwinnett County that specializes in children with dyslexia and other language and speech difficulties.

SUWANEE -- Ten-year-old Eva Harrington used to struggle in school.

Trying to read was a difficult endeavor, as were other classroom activities.

"She did not believe she could do anything right," said her mother, Melissa. "She now has the confidence to sit and do her homework unassisted."

A student of Sage School in Suwanee, Harrington isn't the only one who has found recent success at the learning institution, which specializes in assisting children who have dyslexia and other language and speech difficulties. Others have caught on too, as evidenced by the fast-paced enrollment increase over the past three years.

What started in a cramped four-classroom facility on Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road with only seven students has grown to 30 students. This week, administrators, teachers and students relocated to a 20,000-square-foot building on Satellite Boulevard in Suwanee, which features more than 20 classrooms, a playground and a large common area.

The only school of its kind in Gwinnett County, founder Angela Patton said students of the K-8 learning institution "have average to high IQs, but they have difficulty in language processing and most specifically reading. They're sharp, creative children, who have difficulty catching on to the reading process."

Dyslexia cannot be cured, Patton said, but "after a good program, (students) can become good spellers, writers and communicators."

Teachers at the school use what's called the Orton-Gillingam, or O-G, approach. The program was started in the 1920s by an educator and neurologist to prove that dyslexia was neurologically based and could be remediated.

"Our children have made very good progress," Patton said. "Parents are seeing that. They're seeing that their children can read and feel good about school again."

Nine-year-old Reece Montgomery said the program "has helped me a lot in math, reading and writing."

Since starting school there, she said it's easier for her to study her favorite subject, science.

Fellow student, Harrington, said at her previous school "it was so confusing, but now I understand everything. I think they help you more here if you need help ... no matter what it is."

That's the idea, Patton said.

"These children just need an alternative learning environment," Patton said. "They just learn language differently. We understand that at Sage."