Micah is a typical boy in many ways. He loves Legos and board games, being with friends, and being rather loud. He also struggles a bit with a learning disability that makes keeping up in a typical classroom challenging. However, that’s not what most people see when they first meet him. Instead, they see a wheelchair or crutches and leg braces with orange flames. He’s had a rough start in life, but he doesn’t let it get him down.
Micah spends a lot of time in the hospital or at medical appointments. And every year since he started school, he’s had to miss weeks of class because he’s needed life-saving emergency surgery, then has to remain home to avoid life-threatening infections. When we tried preschool, he missed more class time than he was able to attend. As a result of this and several other contributing factors, we homeschooled him and his older sister until recently.
When we moved to Arizona, a friend encouraged us to look into private schools here, knowing we’d prefer a Christian education over a public school. I was convinced we wouldn’t find one that could accommodate his physical and educational challenges and be flexible with his need to learn from home for extended periods.
We found all of that and more at Mesa Christian Academy. Within the first month of school this year, he had to have yet another emergency surgery. Symptoms had started at school, so I picked him up and took him to the ER. The staff texted me throughout the day, assuring me that they were praying for us and that his two sisters who were still at school were worried, but doing okay. It was wonderful knowing that not only the staff but the whole student body were praying for us and my girls to.
Mesa Christian Academy allows students to work at their own pace. A quick worker can accomplish their goals during the school day and is rewarded with no homework. But a student with a slower pace is allowed to bring their remaining school work home to complete it and be ready to move on the following day. No one is left in the dust, when the class has mastered a concept the teacher moves on. It’s great for a student in an IEP because most necessary accommodations are built into the program.
If we were using public schools, I fully believe Micah would have consistently bad grades. He often struggles to understand new concepts and needs extra tutoring beyond what is available in a typical classroom. Being able to choose a program like the one at MCA has allowed him to have the social learning experience he craves, but still be supported academically as he needs. He missed nearly three weeks of classes due to surgery and recovery, but he didn’t have to add the stress of trying to keep up with his class because he could do what he was able to at home, with help from the teachers over the phone or video chat, and know that he could pick right back up where he left off when it was time.
” I absolutely believe that more families should have the privilege of exercising school choice. Not every family’s story is as extreme as ours is, but many struggles with similar issues on a smaller scale.”
I don’t tell Micah’s story to make you feel sorry for him. I tell it because stories like his are more common than you may think. I absolutely believe that more families should have the privilege of exercising school choice. Not every family’s story is as extreme as ours is, but many struggles with similar issues on a smaller scale.
School choice means that my children can all attend the same school, without anyone being in a stigmatized class. They get to play together during breaks, even my “cool” eighth grader playing with her kindergarten sister, who thinks the world of her, and nobody teases them for it. They have positive peer influence as well as being encouraged to live out Christian values in their everyday lives, and the teachers truly care about and really know each student in the entire school. You can’t always say that about a public school.