PROGRAM — private school

I am a parent of four children. I have two biological boys and two bonus babies, a boy and a girl. All of my kids are grown, but children still remain a part of my life in more ways than one;  I have been teaching for 25 years and at 14 months old, I began raising my son’s twin daughters.

For the past five years, I have been teaching at Weatherford Academy. I can teach anywhere from the Pre-K to kindergarten level, but right now I teach Pre-K 3. This school was my savior honestly. I was in a rough spot. I worked for Head Start until they closed on their 50th anniversary. I looked around for a while, but nothing felt right.

I heard about Weatherford Academy and asked if I could volunteer, but they offered me a job instead. It really feels like a family here. If it wasn’t for this school,  when I had my girls, I wouldn’t know where to put them. My kids love this school. The school also works to further the education of the educators by offering us classes.

There have been quite a few kids with disabilities who attend the school.  I  have had the opportunity of working with kids with special needs and I think that is my calling.  I have also had the opportunity to start a dance team and the school gave me free rein to do so. The school has the feel of a family, but it serves its purpose professionally as well.

This school is such an important option for kids here in New Orleans. Whether you work on the east or west bank, your children are accepted at Weatherford Academy. Each family has a different situation and the school works with everyone to accommodate them. Whether your issue is transportation or something else, the school is always willing to work with its families.

The various Louisianna scholarship programs are important, especially for low-income families. I was one of those who could not afford to send my kids to some of the better schools. Unfortunately, in the public school system in Louisianna, your child may end up in a classroom with 40 students! If you happen to have a child with special needs classrooms like that can be perilous. You kid just ends up kind of stuck.

I mentioned earlier that I have twins. They are both ten years old, and one of them is pretty quiet. She wouldn’t tell anyone even if she was having a hard time. Having the scholarship allows me to choose a school where I know that my children are receiving a good education, not just skating by. No child should be considered just part of the system.

My twins started school here at 4 years old. Even though my kids have aged out, they come back for summer camp and alumni events. Most of the children who age out end up coming back to visit, because the school really is like a family.

Just like most people, we also wonder if what we are doing is helping or if it is all in vain. But, each year we see the school grow a little bit more and every day we are learning something new. Often times we even have parents come and repeat what their kids told them they learned.

My kids also grew a lot here. Despite the fact that my children initially grew up in an abusive situation, when they got here they blossomed. The teachers here really helped them become sure of themselves and they were prepared when they entered the public school system. My daughter who talked very rarely became very articulate; she even ran for class president at her current school.

I am a big advocate for early education. It has been proven that educating children and providing them with social skills early on is integral to their growth. An investment in early education is the best way to prevent crime. Many people think that pre-school is just a place where your kids are sent to play all day. In fact, pre-school is where children learn social skills, phonics, early math, and how to write; without these skills, kids entering Kindergarten will be left behind. These children who are left behind are more likely to fail in educational settings. Instead, they are sent to alternative schools to “catch up”, sometimes they drop out, and sometimes they end up in jail.

The truth remains that most low-income families cannot afford to send their kids to pre-school, but scholarships provide them with that opportunity. If more kids were provided with early education, their presence in alternative schools and jails would decrease significantly. So for any lawmaker who is on the fence about providing scholarships for early education, I implore them to spend a week visiting a school so they can witness firsthand the effect early education has.

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