Just letting somebody tell you where to take your kids to school is not acceptable. I learned that lesson the hard way. In 2008, Chicago Public Schools closed our school, Gladstone Elementary. They sent my oldest son’s paperwork to another school over the summer. By then we had moved and the new school wasn’t close to our house. My younger boys were in pre-K and kindergarten. I was taking them there and bringing them back on the bus. But pre-K and kindergarten were only half day, or about two hours. It was impossible. I had no time for anything. Even worse, my kids just weren’t learning. Every day, they would say, “Bye, Mom, see you after recess,” because all they did was play. The school didn’t offer any special programs to encourage reading. And they didn’t focus on our culture and heritage. During Black History Month, there were no events. There was one good teacher there—they still talk about her to this day—but she was a good teacher in a bad school. Having my children there was the worst experience of my life. I had to get them out. My friend, Ms. Taylor, whose children were at
Legacy Charter School, had been telling me about the school for the longest time. I looked at another school first, but the school fees scared me away. School fees for three kids can get pretty expensive. At Legacy, the school fees almost scared me away again, but another parent helped us out. Someday I hope to do that for another family. Choosing Legacy has turned out to be a blessing. Ms. Kenner is a great principal. She’s always happy. Even if you don’t feel like being happy, her happiness rubs off on you.
Three Boys, Three Ways to Learn
Each of my sons is very different, but Legacy has helped all of them grow as scholars. My middle son was just born to learn. He came out asking questions like, “Why does it work that way?” He has always wanted to know more about everything. But he’s also a bit of a chatterbox. We’re working on helping him learn to explain things to other students, not just say, “That’s not the answer. This is the answer.” My youngest son was two months premature and has developmental delays. He’s just now starting to realize he has an issue with learning, but he still loves coming to school. I think it’s because the teachers are so hands-on with him. Last year he was having an issue with reading. His teachers would tell me how he was struggling and we would brainstorm how to help him. They gave me the inspiration to put up a word wall for him at home. Over the summer, they sent him home with something like a case of books. This last marking period, he gained two or three reading levels. My oldest son just graduated from Legacy in June and started high school. The one thing he misses most from Legacy is setting his own goals with teachers. In his first semester of high school, he did well—all A’s and B’s, with one C—but he really wants to write down personal learning goals like he did at Legacy. We’re going to do that at home now. I didn’t realize how much he needed it until he told me. Legacy also taught my son to take responsibility for himself. For Christmas, I gave him a TV and a game set and put it in his room. He told me, “Mom, that’s too much of a distraction for me. I know myself. Take it out.” I asked him, “When do you want it back?” “When I pass ninth grade,” he said. We have to let our kids learn to be independent. Finding a school that will teach them the same values is very important. School choice helped my family find that school in Legacy Charter.
Photo courtesy of Legacy Charter School.
Stephanie Davis is a mother of three and an active parent volunteer at Legacy Charter School. She lives in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.