Gray Court-Owings School (GCO) has kept the commitment to learn how to support individuals with epilepsy. On Tuesday, February 6, 2024, the South Carolina Advocates for Epilepsy (SAFE) Founder Karen St. Marie came with her son, Eric, a person with epilepsy, and a clinician trainer from the Epilepsy Alliance America to train the GCO Staff.
Laurens County School District 55 (LCSD 55) Interim Superintendent Jody Penland and LCSD 55 School Board Members Heather Elders (Seat 3) and Tabitha Keitt (Seat 1) showed GCO support for their initiative by participating in the two-hour training.
District 42 South Carolina State Representative Leon “Doug” Gilliam is pleased with GCO’s initiative. Gilliam is one of the sponsors of the Seizure Safe Schools Act which has passed the South Carolina House and is anticipated to pass the South Carolina Senate. The Act requires the establishment of a school Seizure Action Plan and training in seizure recognition and first aid. Gilliam said in a phone message, “I’m proud that GCO is starting this initiative ahead of the bill passing.”
Also present on Tuesday and thankful to GCO is the Wilson Family. Madi Wilson, a student at GCO, was five last year when she was diagnosed with Absence Seizure. It was because of Madi’s teachers’ keen observation that prompted Madi’s parents to look closer into Madi’s health. The Wilsons are forever thankful for Mrs. Elledge (lead teacher) and Ms. Eaves (assistant teacher). Mr. Wilson repeatedly said, “I’m thankful for the school.”
The GCO Staff responded positively to the training. Mrs. Elledge said, “I feel empowered to help other students with epilepsy. I now have heightened awareness because of the training. It made me think about students who I may have thought were daydreaming. It made me think about being considerate of flashing lights, special hats, and chrome books that may trigger seizures. I am more mindful of what to look out for.”
“Knowing that 1 in 26 people have epilepsy, our teachers are likely to have at least one student with epilepsy. It is good that we are all trained at GCO and know how to respond properly,” added Elledge.
Nurse Carrie Harris said, “I think the training was very informative. I think it made staff members feel more at ease. If they encounter a student having a seizure, they are equipped to handle the situation. Staff members asked questions and got answers from someone with lots of clinical experience in epilepsy. Madi started taking her seizure medication with me just this week after lunch. She is a joy! I am thankful we, as a school, could help more families that may be part of our school in the future. And as we say at GCO…Go Tigers!”