60 Years of Service: School for people with special needs celebrates anniversary

Published 12:06 am Sunday, January 20, 2019


NATCHEZ — Pleasant Acre Day School in Natchez is celebrating 60 years of helping special-needs individuals through educational, life-skills and life-enrichment programs.

The school was founded in 1959 when special-needs children had no other means of formal education.

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Since then, public schools have adapted to accommodate more special needs children, and Pleasant Acre Day School has adjusted its mission as well.

“Our little program has evolved,” said the school’s director, Mary Ann Foggo-Eidt, who has been with the school since 1963. “This program started off for trainable mentally disabled children from ages 5-16. That’s the way we operated for quite a few years.”

Once children with special needs were integrated into schools, however, Foggo-Eidt said, “we switched gears and became an adult facility.”

Pleasant Acre now accommodates adults older than 21 — some who have been there since they were children.

“It’s where they don’t have to leave once they reach a certain age,” Foggo-Eidt said. “They can always stay here.”

What Foggo-Eidt said she truly loves the most about Pleasant Acre Day School is watching students evolve into the people that they have grown to be.

“I enjoy the children,” Foggo-Eidt said. “I have seen them grow up. That’s been the most fulfilling thing for me.”

Pleasant Acre Day School, Foggo-Eidt said, has developed into more than just a school for people with disabilities. It has become a place where the disabled can go and be with their peers and have a place to call their own.

“We have serviced many individuals,” Foggo-Eidt said. “There’s no other place like Pleasant Acre. It’s a home away from home for them.”

One of the programs the school, located behind the National Guard Armory on Liberty Road, has conducted for nearly 30 years is for students to recycle Mardi Gras beads to package and resell to the public, Foggo-Eidt said.

Today, the beads are displayed and sold in a room in the school called the Beads Galore Shoppe that is open 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Pleasant Acre Day School has an entire room full of beads sorted, wrapped and ready to be purchased for upcoming Mardi Gras parades.

Either one string of specialty beads, a set of six large beads, or a bundle of regular sized beads cost $1.

Proceeds from the year-round bead sale, Foggo-Eidt said, pay for the school’s utilities and fund a special field trip to Biloxi for its students as a treat for their work throughout the year.

Foggo-Eidt said Pleasant Acre Day School has not planned anything extravagant to celebrate the school’s 60 years of existence.

“If anybody wants to sponsor us, we would love to have it,” Foggo-Eidt said,“but we ourselves are not in a position to sponsor one but if somebody wants to do it we are open for it.”