Moodys striving to meet ‘Special Needs’ with ECCC Scholarship

From press reports

Their experience in raising a developmentally challenged son gave Bobby and Ann Moody of Louisville the insight into the impact that special education can have in determining quality of life, productivity, and maximum independence for special needs students.

“Because of our son, Robert, we recognized the importance in training teachers to work with children with special needs to make sure that these students have every opportunity to become productive citizens,” said Ann.

To assist in that training, the Moodys, in 2010, established the Robert J. Moody, Jr., Special Education Scholarship at East Central Community College in Decatur, which is presented each year to a sophomore from Winston County, who is pursuing a degree with an emphasis in special education.

The scholarship is named in honor of Robert Jackson Moody, Jr. Robert was born on February 24, 1965 with no apparent problems but at age two-and-a-half, he started having severe, uncontrollable seizures. These seizures, along with other complications, eventually caused brain damage that left him developmentally challenged in many ways.

He was eventually able to navigate through the Mississippi public education system to receive a certificate of attendance in May 1984 and after residing in several area group homes has gained his independence and full-time employment.

“Desiring independence for himself, Robert became the first residence at The Mustard Seed, Inc., a privately run group home in Flowood, in 1986,” Ann said. “He resided there and worked at the sheltered workshop for approximately six years before moving to a Hudspeth Center group home in Meridian. While there, Robert gained employment with Wal-Mart in their garden center. He currently resides in the Louisville Group Home also run by the Huspeth Center. He transferred to the Louisville Wal-Mart and continues to work there as a door greeter.”

Ann added, “Physically closer to his family, Robert is now able to interact with hometown family and friends regularly and attend his ‘home’ church, Good Hope Baptist, on a weekly basis. He continues to receive life skills and educational training through teachers and other workers at the Hudspeth Center facility. He is loved and inspired by all that know him.”

Before establishing the scholarship, Robert J. (Bobby) Moody, Sr. served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1984 to 2002. As a freshman member of the education committee, he was able to get an emphasis placed on adequate education for special needs students. Also, as the Chairman of Public Health and Welfare for 12 years and as subcommittee chairman of appropriations for mental health and vocational rehabilitation, he was instrumental in pushing through and funding legislation to create more than 50 group homes and sheltered workshops strategically located throughout the state of Mississippi. He was also instrumental in creating a job coach program to assist training special needs adults to work in the private sector.

The Moodys hope that recipients of the scholarship will continue the legacy they have begun.

“Our advice to scholarship recipients is to be prepared for the heartaches that go along with serving special needs individuals, but also anticipate immeasurable rewards.

We hope that they (the scholarship recipients) will continue the legacy we have begun to facilitate the productivity and self-worth of developmentally challenged individuals,” Bobby said. “We appreciate East Central Community College’s assistance in allowing us, through them, to encourage students to consider the opportunities and rewards of special education.”

The 2012 recipient of the Robert J. Moody, Jr., Special Education Scholarship is Emily Marler, a graduate of Morton High School.