Sponsored By: IDEA Public Schools
A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.
-John F. Kennedy
As my son’s first school year comes into spring, I reflect on the challenges and gifts that this new chapter has given us as a family. It’s never easy to accept that you are no longer the center of your baby’s world. I will never forget the pang I felt in my chest when my 5 year old kindly, but bluntly insisted he walk himself to class while I remained in the car.
I’ve watched my son quickly develop into a full-fledged student with confidence and pride for his education and future. Attending IDEA Allan Academy and College Prep, a charter school (which is a free alternative to traditional public education) , has led my son’s rich educational experience.
IDEA is no typical school, and here’s why:
1. NO EXCUSES
IDEA Allan (well, all IDEA schools actually) was built on the belief that every child should and can be educated with the same passion and innovation with no regard to income, zip code, or other external factors. And because of this, the students are taught that there are no excuses for failure, and that they are the ones responsible for their own successes and failures.
My son feels empowered by this belief and thrives off the control he’s encouraged to celebrate.
2. THE FACULTY
I’ve blogged about it before, but I still cannot express fully enough how impressed I am and continue to be with my son’s teacher, Ms. Kaila Velez. She understands that no two children are the same and that although there is a standard to maintain, teaching a class should require flexibility and customization. She makes my son, Dre feel like he has an unconditional cheerleader in his corner who expects nothing less than his best.
Also, one of the most appealing aspects of IDEA’s academic model is its emphasis on individualized instruction. This means that students who are 1st grade, but ahead in math may attend 2nd grade math. It’s neat stuff and you can learn more about it here.
3. THE STAFF
If the students, faculty, and campus are puzzle pieces, the staff is the glue that holds it together.
The receptionist and secretary greet every guest that comes in with joy and professionalism. They even know my child on a first-name basis which makes me feel secure as a parent.
I had lunch with my son on a Friday (the designated day for lunch visitors), and I noticed that the cafeteria staff seemed so loving and genuinely concerned for the children. Some cracked jokes and one employee even stopped working to help a boy tie his shoes.
The person who really grabbed my heart that day is Monica Lamas, food service specialist. After each child threw away their trash, I watched as they would instinctively turn and lift their arms to hug her in a ritual embrace. She did it for every child then continued to clean as if she didn’t give it a second thought.
The principals also give students high fives as they walk in the door.
4. THE COMMUNICATION
My son’s teacher, Ms. Velez has her work phone number inside each child’s daily binder and welcomes questions through call or text until 8 p.m. every evening. Seems lovely enough, right?
But what makes the communication between parents and IDEA faculty special is that it goes both ways.
Ms. Velez does not hesitate to send a text throughout the day to keep my updated on everything from test scores to behavior. But because we all know a mom can never feel appreciated enough, I especially love the times she’s called just to tell me I’m doing a good job.
5. SCHOOL PRIDE
With the consistent uniform comes school pride. The children feel like they are part of a team, a group all focused on their own goals but same value of high learning.
Plus, the IDEA Allan mascot is a bulldog. What kid wouldn’t want to be a bulldog?
6. THE UNIFORM
When I heard that IDEA had a required uniform, my first thought was, “Easy and fast mornings!” It hardly gets simpler than knowing what my child will be wearing that day is the least of my concerns. It allows my son and I to focus on and enjoy other parts of our morning ritual.
The uniform also decreases distractions. The students aren’t worried about who is wearing what and who can afford it. Their focus remains on their education.
7. THE READING PROGRAMS
IDEA’s Accelerated Reading Zone is a time set aside for a student to read a book of their choice that’s on their designated level. Each student has set reading goals based on their individual capability then uses tools such as trackers and logs to hold them accountable.
Since my son is still in kinder, Ms. Velez has parents fill out a daily reading log to hold us accountable, as well. We are encouraged to read to our children for at least 20 minutes a day to bring about numerous benefits such as better communication and word recognition.
Students have the chance to join the “Millionaires Club” when the read more than ONE MILLION words. Those students are treated to a really nice brunch, they receive certificates, and more! It’s a great celebration for their hard work.
This month for Heart Disease Awareness, the school has been raising money for a terminally ill student. The students and children have all come together with IDEA to do what they can to help. The philanthropic culture of the school encourages a sense of community and responsibility for society. It also goes back to their other Core Value, Team and Family.
9. FREE BREAKFAST
As part of an agreement to operate their food service under the US Department of Agriculture and Texas Department of Agriculture, IDEA is able to provide every student with one free breakfast a day.
Breakfast keeps moodiness and distractions at bay as well as sharpens the child’s focus and concentration. I feel lucky enough to be able to provide and prepare a full breakfast to my son each morning, but not all children are as blessed. IDEA ensures they do their part to start their students’ day with more than nutritional balance and that’s genuine concern.
10. iLEARNING HOT-SPOT MATH LAB
IDEA students have access to top-notch adaptive math software in the iLearning lab. I’ve showed for pickup early a few times only to have my son beg for five more minutes practicing his math. IDEA has mastered fun and exciting learning, and the students can’t get enough.