Education’s Too Important to Just Settle. (our quest for a great school)

It was time to start thinking about school. The girls were just about ready for that next step, “formal education.” As my husband and I pondered what we wanted for them, we began to look around at what options were available in our community. Here’s our story; maybe it will give you hope as you navigate your options and find the best education for your children.

Our children would be okay anywhere, but we needed a school where our children would thrive.

Our family!

One that would welcome me as a partner.

One that would show the girls that learning is great.

One that could tailor the learning experience for each of my children.

One that could provide the very different tools they need to be successful.

After all, even at the pre-school stage, I knew my daughters were not “one size fits all” learners.

I wasn’t sure there was such a place, but I needed to find out.

And so, I began my search. I looked at traditional schools, private schools, charter schools, and home schools. I'm not saying there wasn't good aspects to each of these options, but could I really find a place where both of my daughters could get what they needed or would I have to choose one daughter's needs over the other’s?

2 girls. 2 very different challenges.

Jenna

Jenna, 2nd Grade

Jenna began to read early. And I mean really read. She was reading chapter books before she started kindergarten. She is calm, polite, friendly, inquisitive, thoughtful and passionate about learning. She needed a school where she could be challenged at her own speed; a place where her natural tendencies and abilities would be encouraged, fed and blossom—not wither.

Mia

Mia on her first day of kindergarten, with big sister Jenna going into 2nd grade.

Mia did not read early. In fact, she'd rather listen to her sister read or listen to recorded books. Reading is a BIG effort for Mia. She is energetic, kind, jovial, inquisitive and passionate about fun. She also has education challenges and learns through the lenses of Dyslexia. Let's just say, learning looks different for Mia.

She needed a place where she would be provided the necessary tools to allow her natural tendencies and abilities to blossom; a place of expectations, courage and support.

Wrong Places. Wrong Mindsets.

After interviewing several principals and visiting the schools available in my community, I became weary. I was told things like,

“No, we can’t enroll her in first grade. Jenna will be placed in kindergarten and after a while she’ll adjust. Eventually the advanced students blend in. Eventually. In the mean time, she can spend her time helping the other students.”

AND...

“We don't identify and label students with disabilities. That's mean.”

Yeah. I was actually dumfounded by these remarks. I envisioned my sweet, enthusiastic Jenna in a cloud of boredom and wasting away from lack of academic stimulation; becoming tired and frustrated with school. I pictured Mia getting lost in the shuffle, becoming defeated, and never getting the tools she so desperately needs to succeed. I had to keep looking.

Then, it happened. A friend from the girls' ballet class, told me about her child's school. I was intrigued.

“Gem Prep's learning environment stands out as a place for everyone, and at the same time, a place for someONE.”

Gem’s focus is on personalizing the learning experience for each child. Students learn in small groups and use adaptable programs to challenge them at their own level. In Gem, Jenna was able to be challenged at her own level, and not sitting bored waiting for the class to catch up to her. In her situation, whole-grade acceleration from kindergarten to first grade was part of the solution. Jenna is now in second grade in her second year at Gem. The transition couldn't have been easier. The older students welcomed her as one of their own and she settled in very well.

She's still trying to decide whether to be a master chef, surgeon or a super bunny when she grows up!

She is now in 2nd grade and working through fourth grade material in both math and English language arts. She is engaged, happy, and challenged, every day.

Jenna, 2nd Grade

We had such a great experience with Jenna’s first year in school, we wondered if the Gem program was flexible enough to accommodate Mia, as learning looks very different for her. Would the school be able to give her the support she needs?

I sat down with the principal and the kindergarten teacher and together we put a plan in place. One we felt would fit Mia’s learning style, and give her what she needs. A true partnership for the good of my daughter.

The adjustable online programs used in Gem Prep, are proving to be a real benefit to Mia, as well.

Since she has to work really hard at reading, she can repeat a reading lesson as many times as it takes to master the content. And, no one but the teacher knows she is repeating the lesson.

Mia, Kindergarten

She can be sitting right in the middle of more advanced students and work at her own pace, and feel just like she is one of them.

When a student learns differently from others, helping them accept that with confidence is one of the keys to helping them succeed and continue to be motivated to push through and learn. The ability to overcome challenges with peer support is fabulous. My husband and I are so excited for Mia, and we cannot wait to see her grow and blossom on HER own pathway.

Gem Prep has proven to be a great school. A great fit for both of our daughters. A school that partners with parents and is focused on customizing the education for each and every child.

A high performing school—innovative in approach—that really puts the power, passion and joy back into education.

There are three Gem Prep schools in Idaho: Pocatello, Nampa, and coming soon to Meridian.

Gem Prep schools are free, public charter schools serving students grades K-5, and growing to serve grades K-12. For more information about a school near you, visit our websites below:

You can also find us on Facebook.

Gem Prep—Preparing students today for successful tomorrows—one student at a time!

Thank you to Kim M. for sharing her family's journey with us.

Credits:

Created with images by CristinaAbadia - "dairy calendar school" • justine warrington - "school"

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