I am both a parent and an educator working in a charter online environment. This environment includes full-time courses where students are taught through video conferencing with a live mentor. Emails are a huge part of our job to stay in constant communication, therefore building a relationship with the students and parents through written and visual means.
My children have always grown up with the school of choice mentality. Both were raised in a charter school environment. I have a son who struggles with ADHD and is highly gifted. Often times, teachers wouldn’t meet his needs, as he is unable to sit long enough, impulsive to always shout out the right answers, and unfortunately bullied because students felt they couldn’t relate to him. I saw a decrease in his activity, as he became more withdrawn and didn’t want to interact.
After speaking with my son, we found that his school just wasn’t a good fit for him. Immediately, thanks to the school of choice, we switched his school to this beautiful online environment. His confidence soared and his grades gradually improved. He felt heard, and even made a few friends.
My daughter, who came from a school of choice she loved, needed more structure. She came over to the online community before COVID-19 happened. Because we are an online school, she was able to continue her schooling like normal and was able to ace her Algebra 1 class, she looked at me triumphantly and said, “I am now ready for high school.” She now does not fear the upcoming diagnostic tests to enter her high school and welcomes it like an old friend.
I have been a teacher for almost ten years. Finding that right administration and the perfect team can sometimes be a difficult task. I was lucky enough to have both. My team and I work together endlessly to make sure our students have the right mixture of fun and learning. We constantly strive to do better. Our administration gives us this opportunity, always pushing us to become better in whatever we need. They provide us time to create lessons and professional development for our staff, giving us a chance to be purposeful leaders, the same as to what they want for their own students.
My daughter often commented that she loves her principal when she was accepted into the magnet school of her choice, he offered her congratulations and wished her well, but also let her know our community is always open to her with open arms. He accepted her need to attend another school that was focused on culinary since our school did not provide this at the time.
My son will be continuing on with me at our school, and he is delighted. He is loved by the staff, he feels a closeness he didn’t feel in other settings. This school works for him. I am able to have the flexibility as an educator and as a mother to check on him during our school day. The live classes make all the difference and the students create a closeness that many classrooms cannot obtain.
It is important for schools of choice because students deserve the right school. I can add in that I am now an educator, I can also add in that I quit high school at 16. When I was a teenager, my mother looked tirelessly for me to attend another school. Those options just didn’t exist. I was miserable, the school didn’t fit me, and I watched my grades deteriorate. I started failing classes and was able to fall into the shadows, I would do just enough work to stay under the radar, but not enough to always pass.
Finally, my mother helped me get into college at 16 and I received my GED at 17. There are days that I wish I could have graduated with my friends, but that didn’t happen, nor did I have the choice to go to other schools that might best help me succeed. This is why I became an educator: I want students to feel safe in a classroom, I also want students to have the right to find mentors or teachers that make an impact on them in a positive light. I may or may not always be that teacher, but at least with a school of choice, I know that these students can find their right place so that they can blossom into anything they want to be and be their best selves at every moment.
After COVID-19 hit, many families were devastated with what to do with their students. Our admin team decided to cut our hours for a couple of weeks so that all families could become adjusted to this situation. By the third week, we were back up and running like normal. I know it is what helped my children work through a trying time. Their friends would often ask what they were working on in school so that they could catch up too. Our school looks out for the best interest of their mentors, students, and staff. Had my children had to stay where they were originally, they would have missed out on important learning adventures that have proven to help them become more successful and not fall behind the curve.