Second 3-D School’s inaugural year off to good start



Dynamic Dyslexia Design: The 3-D School and Evaluation Center Petal location is no longer the only separate school for dyslexia in the state. The school has expanded outside of the City of Petal in order to meet the need executive director of the 3-D School Cena Holifield sees on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“The need for dyslexia therapy is great,” Holifield has said. “Dyslexia is the most common learning disability and also the least treated. I’m not surprised at the demand for something else like this. It’s sad that so little services are available.”

The school year kicked off on Aug. 8 with 28 students separated into three classrooms split by second, third and fourth grade. The school is located in the former Tacomy Elementary School building in Ocean Springs, which Holifield has said made it financially feasible to open another campus.

Two spots are open at the school for incoming students.

The Petal 3-D School was the model school for the Gulf Coast. Four dyslexia therapists and a principal make up the faculty at the Ocean Springs campus.

“Everything is going well,” Holifield said. “I’ve been really pleased with relationship with city and the school. They have bent over backwards to make us feel welcome there. We just couldn't ask for more supportive people than the people of Ocean Springs.”

Students receive dyslexia therapy every day, then return to their classrooms where they are taught by dyslexia therapists.

“They are all very excited because they have a large playground set up for them at the school,” Holifield said with a laugh.

The children are not the only ones excited about the new location.

“The families, oh my word, we have been blessed with some wonderful families and that makes all the work worthwhile,” Holifield said.

Laura Lacoste said the 3-D School in Ocean Springs is a “God-send.”

Her son, Cannon Lacoste is in the fourth grade.

“This is his first year at 3-D,” Laura said. “He previously attended a private school that offered dyslexia therapy, but not to the degree that he is receiving now at 3-D.”

“This opportunity is an absolute God-send and the answer to many many prayers for us - actually this scenario was above and beyond what I would have thought to ask for,” she said. “I'm a single mom and Ocean Springs is my home town. My parents live here so moving (from Gulfport) was a no brainer, but the ultimate divine timing was finding out that a house right by the school (that a friend of mine was living in) would be available for us to move into just in time to get settled in and ready for school.”

Laura is now able to walk her child across the street to a dyslexia school that he already loves.

“Every teacher has a masters degree in dyslexia therapy,” she said. “They were called to work with kids like my son and it is evident in everything they do. We are all home now and I am overwhelmed to the point of tears daily with gratitude for these blessings.”

Laura said the “dyslexia journey” is a tough one - especially financially.

“So it brings me such a sense of peace to know my son is being educated in the way that he learns - that he will have a chance now to reach his full academic potential and most of all that I can spend more time being his mom and less being his tutor,” she said. “You wouldn't believe the hours a dyslexic child has to put in just to keep his head above water in a traditional elementary school setting - even one that offers dyslexia therapy.”

Holifield said a large part of the students who were attending the 3-D School in Petal were not from the Petal area, but their parents would make the drive every morning to bring them to school.

“They come from the coast, Wiggins, Poplarville,” she said. “The need in South Mississippi is great.”

Holifield, who is also the director for William Carey University’s dyslexia therapy program, said the new addition to the Gulf Coast began with the expansion of William Carey’s dyslexia therapy program to the Tradition campus.

The school accepts students entering second through fourth grades at the Gulf Coast Campus.

The students must remain in the school for three years in order to complete the comprehensive dyslexia therapy curriculum. The daily schedule includes dyslexia therapy, language arts, math, social studies and science. 

The students will also enjoy art and music activities, as well as occasional field trips. All instruction is delivered by licensed dyslexia therapists trained in the William Carey University Dyslexia Therapy Master’s Degree program.

The opening of the new school comes on the heels of the Petal 3-D School’s 10th anniversary.

“We’ve learned a lot to become stronger and more successful,” Holifield has said. “We are excited to offer this on the Coast.”

In the future, Holifield said the ultimate goal is to build a school on the Tradition campus in the future when the money is raised.

The school will follow the same schedule as Ocean Springs School District.



Things to know before enrolling students:

On the 3-D School website, two main policies are stressed to parents interested in enrolling their child or children. The first of which is that all students must be evaluated for ADHD/ADD before entering the school. 

Students that receive a negative diagnosis, but demonstrate ADD/ADHD behaviors by the 3-D School staff, will be referred for reevaluation by a physician who specializes in the treatment of ADD/ADHD.

Also, students demonstrating emotional or social behavior issues will not be accepted into the school. The 3-D School will provide a positive learning environment for students and will not tolerate behaviors that disrupt instruction for students.

The school is limited to accepting 36 students, so those interested in enrolling should begin the application process immediately. Approximately half of the slots are still available.

The 3-D School was established in 2008 in Petal. The school is accredited through the Mississippi Department of Education as a nonpublic special purpose school.

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities.

These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction.

Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

Over the past 10 years, many 3-D School students have benefitted greatly from instruction and have been successful when re-entering a regular school.

For more information, contact Holifield at 601-450-3333 or visit