Charter Schools Are A Wonderful Option In Education

Our family includes four children. The first three attended traditional public schools with varying results. We chose a charter school for our fourth child and could not be happier.

Our oldest daughter, Abby, was beautiful by the time she hit middle school. Her physical appearance along with her height gave people the impression she was older than she really was. Abby was pigeon-holed into the "pretty girl" category and her academics suffered as a result. We spent most of her upper grade years fending off potential boyfriends that were too old for her. She was never seriously considered as academic material and was mislead into thinking that "girls aren't good at math," and other stereotypes that are attributed to attractive women. As parents, we tried to stress the importance of education to her. However, Abby, like most teenagers, was interested in the path of least resistance and chose classes that were not challenging or a good preparation for her future.

Fortunately, Abby did go to college and is now a registered nurse. She did this under her own steam. She could have taken many classes to advance this goal while still in high school, but the faculty didn't recognize her potential. Thank God Abby believed in herself, because the public school system could not have cared less. They just moved her through the system and her real education didn't happen until she was out of there.


Daughter number two is a pretty young lady as well. She is a little more reserved than her older sister Abby. Alice moved through the public school system without any problems. I just think, again, that her potential was wasted. Her attendance was required, but the quality of her education was mediocre. Public school was more of an obligation than an educational opportunity. Alice is also a registered nurse now. I just think these girls accomplished their college education with minimal assistance from their public school education. In college they both had to take basic courses like Algebra and English Composition. These classes could have been out of the way in high school.



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My son Andrew hated public school. Andrew is a bit of a nerd and the social pressures of having the latest clothing or excelling at a particular sport were lauded over academic achievement. We were lucky again when Andrew became friends with a group of like-minded friends. They all had high GPAs and went on to take college level classes before their high school graduation. Andrew had 24 college credits when he graduated from high school. He is now an environmental engineer. If you ask him about his public school experience now, he will tell you it was a waste of time.

Our youngest daughter Anna was born fifteen years after the first three kids. I knew I didn't want to make the same mistakes. I knew I wanted her to decide who she is and not to have her defined by her gender or appearance.

We enrolled Anna into a small parochial school in our area, hoping that the atmosphere would foster close friendships for her and her classmates., as well as provide a well-rounded education with ample teaching time for each student. Anna went to this school from kindergarten through fourth grade. By fourth grade she started to say things like "girls aren't good at math." This school was a WELS Lutheran school. This school seemed to infer boys should be ministers and girls should be teachers. I don't know how well a teacher can do her job if she tells her female students that God doesn't make girls able to understand math as well as boys! Anna has a pretty vivid imagination and currently desires to become a veterinarian. Math is a pretty important subject. We started considering alternate schools and that is when SOAR opened up.


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This school has an integration of technology and nature studies that engage a child's mind immediately. There are no notebooks and no one-size-fits-all curriculum. Every child is issued a laptop and a tablet. Science class is conducted outdoors with hands-on study, and waders if necessary! Physical education is any activity chosen by a child. Ana walks our German Shepherd dog on Fridays. She cross country skis and swims outside of classroom time and these activities fulfill her physical education requirements. Anna went from being a child that dreaded school to one that smiles on her way to the classroom.

The class does a lot of learning outdoors applying different things they are studying to the real world. The use GPS and Geocaching to understand geography, which is far more engaging than anything I recall from my grade school years.

The children are encouraged to think for themselves; They eat when they are hungry and can use the bathroom when nature calls instead of begging for permission.

There is now scheduled class time for mathematics. Each student is required to complete four hours of math independently. The course work is online and tailored to challenge every student on an individual level. For example, if our child struggles with fractions the course work will concentrate on fractions until the material is understood. Anna has already completed half of the required math for the school year in two months! Because she is being held accountable for herself and her pace in class, she applies herself more diligently.



The classrooms have couches, beanbags, stability balls and traditional desks for seating options, so the children are comfortable. Instead of structured classes, the learning take splace through work on projects the students help choose. The school has an I_Pad, Smart Board and video equipment for the students use as well as internet and library resources. Anna has become so knowledgeable regarding these electronic devices I ask her for assistance with my computer at home.

My daughter recently gave a pres She answered questions about her subject and about the technology she used to research her subject at a living history event attended by a large crowd of people. My daughter made me so proud. Her confidence and public speaking ability at age ten have vastly improved in only two months of charter school. I can hardly believe the transformation.

Charter school provided the atmosphere for my child to learn and flourish. If you would like more information about her school, visit: www.npsd.k12.wi.us/soar

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