December 9th, 2016
I had been looking for schools since my son was one month old. When he turned 3 years old, I sent him to a popular charter school that focuses on early learning. The school was located in a great location and each of the teachers were easy to work with and developed great relationships with the children. With a 10:1 student ratio I felt comfortable knowing my son would be safe and secure and would be in a positive learning environment. Once he turned 5 years old he matured out of the school and I searched long and hard for a new school. Our inbound school was Langdon but with a kindergarten class of 33 students and one teacher, I knew my son would not be noticed until the end of the school year. In January I used the DC Lottery to find the right school. The outcome resulted in one public charter school on the list that did not have a waiting period. After three months of waiting on the list I selected the school that was open and soon my son was off to starting his first day in Kindergarten.
The first week went smooth but my son was not very excited to wake up each day and go to school. On week two he began coming home with “sad” face progress reports. He was devastated and would cry every time I would drop him off. Over the next two weeks I went to school with him to understand why he was so upset each day. The teacher was a very sweet woman but had no concept of controlling a class. Everyday at least 15 of the 20 kids would be placed in time out. During the children’s down time she would put on music videos and let the kids sing and dance to the “nay nay” song. Both the school work and homework was produced to help kids learn how to pass standardized tests and was confusing to me as an adult so I could only image how much the children were confused. As an involved parent, I wanted to be a part of the solution not the problem so I asked could I assist with purchasing teaching supplies and any other material the class needed. My help was not welcome nor appreciated as the teacher informed me “if you do not like the school you can take your child elsewhere”.
I left the school devastated knowing I needed another school for my son. I got in my car crying, praying, and asking God to help me find a school for my son. As a passed Calvary Christian Academy I remembered a friend telling me she was sending her daughter to the school so I went for a visit that same day. The first thing I noticed was all the pictures of children playing and Christian feel when I walked in the doors. I was so overwhelmed I began to cry thanking God for directing me to a place of peace.
MEETING WITH THE TEACHER: At 4pm, the kindergarten teacher (Mr. Minor) was still at the school and allowed me to review his weekly lesson plans as well as the aBeka books he taught with. As I controlled my tears of joy he informed me that he only had room for one more student in his class and that my son would have to visit the school one day to see if it was a good fit.
INTERVIEW WITH THE PRINCIPAL: The next day, Ethan was called in to interview with the school and was informed of the school rules. Again, I cried tears of joy as they started the meeting off with a prayer. It was such a calming feeling to know we were in the right place. One of the rules was no long hair for boys. I loved his hair and did not want to cut it but decided that I would let my son make his own decision on his hair. Once we discussed the rules Ethan was asked to come back to have a classroom visit which was planned the next week.
SCHOOL VISIT: The day I went to pick Ethan up from Calvary Christian Academy he was so excited he did not want to leave the school. Even with the knowledge that he would have to cut his long hair, he begged me “mommy please cut my hair so I can go my new school”. With his joy and excitement, I could only pray that the school would accept my little one.
RETURNED TO THE OLD SCHOOL: When he returned to his old school he told his teacher “I’m going to a new school”. Well, this was something I was not ready to share but when I picked him up his teacher asked me if he was leaving. My response was “Yes, I am looking for another school because I am not a huge fan of the curriculum.” I could not tell her that I did not like coming to the school watching the kids dance to the nay nay. I could not tell her that I did not like the homework she sent home which was solely focused on test taking techniques and if I didn’t understand it how could he; I did not tell her he continues to come home crying everyday due to the sad faces she gives him; I did not tell her that I did not like how she put the kids in time out and let them ball their eyes out simply because she didn’t have solid experience working with school children – which is not a day care facility. No, instead, I simply said “their acceptance of children is a process and I hope they accept him since he really likes the school.”
The next week he had his acceptance paper and was ready to start Calvary Christian Academy.
WHAT I LEARNED: The DC Lottery selection process is truly challenging. With many of the public schools closed or closing there are hundreds of pop-up charter schools looking to fill this gap. However, these charter schools do not have the same requirements as public schools. _IN WASHINGTON DC CHARTER SCHOOL TEACHERS DO NOT HAVE TO BE CERTIFIED TEACHERS_ as discussed in the Education Commission of the States. (http://ecs.force.com/mbdata/mbquestNB2?rep=CS1425). Charter Schools are easy to start and receive federal funding per student the funding varies per school. However there has been an ongoing fight about the accountably, who manages these schools, and mismanagement of funds.
MY EXPERIENCE AT CALVARY CHRISTIAN ACADEMY: Every day I pray and ask God to protect my family and watch over my son. I enrolled my child in a Christian school to obtain a Christian education in a morally, spiritually, and physically safe environment. He loves his teacher, his principal, and classmates and he amazes me each day with everything that he has learned. Choosing Calvary Christian was the best decision I could have ever made.
~CCA Parent, 2016