Olivia started kindergarten as any normal child does. We did a lot of reading and playing at home with educational materials before she started kindergarten. Because of that, she was already ahead of where she needed to be before she started school. That readiness very quickly presented problems in the traditional public school system; they are not really prepared for those children. During the first four weeks of second grade, we got a phone call from the school. They basically said, “we can’t do anything with your child.” I said, “what do you mean you can’t do anything with my child?” She responded, “your daughter has already tested out of and basically completed the second grade.”
I asked her what that meant for Oliva. She told me that after speaking with the principal they would like to move her to the third grade. I didn’t know what that looks like for me as a parent because that is a big year. It’s a year that emotionally she would basically lose. My husband and I really struggled over this decision. We did as much research as we could to understand what kind of emotional challenges our daughter might face moving forward. We already knew what we were facing if she stayed where she was, pure boredom. At home, Olivia would complete work in a matter of minutes because she already knew how to do everything. It was quickly becoming a nightmare at home, so we decided to move her up.
That decision brought a new set of challenges. While she was physically and educationally ready, there were some emotional challenges she encountered. She completed the third grade while doing fourth-grade level work. By the time she got to the fourth grade, there was nothing left to teach her there either. We didn’t have a choice to attend other schools in Cleveland county. It was the traditional public school or nothing. The other choices would have been Thomas Jefferson and Rutherford county. However, my husband and I both still worked at the time. We literally just could not get her there and back with our work schedules.
Over the years we tried to explore as many options as possible for Olivia. We put her in as many educational programs during the summers as we possibly could. The school year was of course more difficult because there just weren’t a lot of programs within Cleveland County that would meet her needs. Everything offered was basic childcare. We needed a place where she would not just be occupied, but where she could be challenged.
She did have some wonderful teachers at her public school that went above and beyond for her. Her second and third-grade teachers tried to give her more challenging material. They even went to the Cleveland Memorial Library to get her books because she was reading beyond anything that they could present to her from the elementary school. As much as we all tried, it was not until we found Pinnacle Classical Academy that Oliva finally met a challenge.
Pinnacle was an absolute godsend for us, but we had to wait till the fifth grade before Oliva could attend. We found Pinnacle because the school was being promoted in town hall meetings and in different communities. We took a tour by ourselves, and we asked so many questions. From the very beginning, the school talked about how they wanted to be a premier educational facility. This school just offered more than what was traditionally offered in the public school system.
“When we told her that Pinnacle might be able to give her that, she was so excited.”
Before we were able to enroll Oliva, we had to go through the lottery process. We were very anxious because we knew that this might be the answer for our child, but we did not know if she would be accepted through the lottery process. It was mind-numbing and anxious, but ultimately worth it. Oliva was very excited to try her new school. Our daughter is a curious child. She is not just content with being given material; she wants to know the why behind them. When we told her that Pinnacle might be able to give her that, she was so excited.
Pinnacle was a very new school at the time, and they did not yet have the funding for some programs, like sports. However, with time those programs came, and in the meantime what we needed academically was more than available. We were very pleased with the education our daughter received. We really couldn’t have asked for better. Oliva was being challenged for the first time. For the first time, she was bringing home homework to do, because she hadn’t been able to complete it at school. It was an adjustment for our entire family because we were all having to learn. The teachers were even working and studying on field trips so they could rise to the challenge of their curriculum. Everybody was held to a higher standard.
Olivia turned seventeen one week before she graduated. She received multiple awards and accolades, and for us, as parents, we finally had that affirmation that we made the right decision. As her parents, we struggled so much with whether or not we were making the right decision for years. To watch her rise up and excel on her own was like getting a small pat on the back to say, “You did what was best for your child.”
“I think it is important that you have a choice, no matter what kind of student your child is.”
I think it is important that you have a choice, no matter what kind of student your child is. Pinnacle is not just for exceptional students or for gifted students. It is also for the child that needs help and not quite where they need to be. There are caring staff and caring teachers that will go that extra mile and take that extra step to ensure that every child gets what they need. To me, school choice means having the ability to make the decision that best meets the needs of your child. I would encourage every parent of a school-aged child to research your option. Do not just assume that that where your child is placed is the best place.