My son had expressed unhappiness in the public school that he was attending and the quality of education was slipping. After reading about charter schools, I wanted to give them a shot. To my surprise, I randomly received a letter in the mail pertaining to a new charter school starting at the fifth grade in New York, New York.

The process began with a home visit from one of the teachers which I thought was a wonderful idea to get to know us as well as get to know them and the mission of the school. He was accepted. We attended the orientation and were interested in what the principal had to say. My son and I, knew that it was our school of choice. As a uniform school, it took the pressure off parents so that our students can focus on just learning and not fashion. The school instilled responsibility, accountability, discipline, college readiness, and a community within the school.

Homerooms were named after colleges and universities; students went on college trips in the sixth grade. They were given tools for success in the classroom and beyond. For example, I loved the idea that the students were given binders and daily planners and were held accountable to keep them in order. as well as the appearance, and the teachers did spot checks to make sure. It wasn’t until the sixth grade that I was noticing my son was experiencing some academic challenges. I called a meeting with his teachers and we were all on the same page. My son was able to obtain resources within the school to assist him to get on track. Soon after, I decided to have him tested with the Board of Ed to find out exactly what was his challenge and it was identified to be in reading comprehension, his math ability was on an 11th-grade level. As a result, he received an IEP to receive resources through the Board of Ed. I didn’t look at having an IEP as a blemish on his record. I looked at it as being an advocate for my son to get the necessary tools to succeed.

Although the resources helped him tremendously, it wasn’t enough to sustain him into the seventh grade. It was recommended after a meeting with his teachers to retain him for one year. Of course, as a parent, I didn’t want him to be retained, but I had to decide what was best for him in the long run. I had the choice to placed him in the seventh grade in another school, but I would have done him a disservice. Some parents of the students who were retained chose the latter. My son wanted to stay because he loved the school and the students.

I must mention that Mr. Jason Epting was a great principal who cared deeply for his students by providing the best quality of teachers. My son looked up to him as one of his role models and is still connected today. I’m proud to announce that through my advocacy for my son, he has soared to maintaining honor roll status throughout middle school and was accepted to a prestigious high school that his experience in charter school prepared him for. Now, I’m concerned about transitioning from a small charter school to a large high school.

I had a meeting with the resource team at that school to be reassured that he will succeed. I stayed in communication with his resource teacher throughout his high school years to make sure he was getting the services required. Fast forward, he did very well and received several awards at graduation. As a college graduate of the class of 2020 of Columbia College Chicago, he had a wonderful college experience. The college also provided resources and I recommended to my son hold onto them just in case, but he never had to use them. I’m happy I chose to put him in charter school, it was a caring family and a stepping stone to my son’s greatness.

“When it comes to our student’s education, we should have freedom of choice.”

When it comes to our student’s education, we should have freedom of choice. As parents, if we are not satisfied with the quality of education that our children are receiving at a particular school, we should have the freedom of choice to put our child in an environment that aligns best with their needs and values. It’s all about getting the best education possible. Schools should not be a one-size-fits-all education.

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