When I was a young child, somewhere between 2nd-4th grade I was considered a “Title I” student. For those who don’t know what that means, that is when the student needs a little extra help from a teacher with their school studies because they just aren’t where they “should be” in relation to the rest of the class. I was brilliant at math, also brilliant at computers. I could read just fine. But I didn’t have a memory like your “average” student. And because of this I was stuck with a label of needing some extra help all the way through high school. I struggled to memorize spelling words. When I would read on my own in either a book for English class or Science I wouldn’t retain much. I would struggle with the pop quizzes and tests. I would study and study and still would struggle just to pass the class. Now you give me some numbers to process or a task relating to a computer and I would excel. I’m not sure my educators ever picked up on this.
When I got to college I struggled in the same areas. I had to take a class they labeled “Bone Head English” because my ACT score wasn’t where it “needed” to be. On my own, I figured out how I was able to learn best. Most of my classes were in Computers and Math. So, most of them were hands-on. I actually didn’t read a single book throughout college and passed with A’s and B’s and have a Masters in IT Management along with 7 other college degrees all in the IT field. My college was different from sitting at a desk, reading on your own, and watching a teacher write something on the board. For 12 years of my childhood education, I was branded with “something is wrong with me.” I thought, “I must be dumb,” because I always struggled with the classes and homework. I was never taught the concept that we all learn at different paces and we all learn differently until I became a life coach and learned to QUESTION EVERYTHING and my son started pre-k.
Pre-K. That is where I thought my son would get an introduction to school while learning how to function on a full time school schedule. It was just that until I talked to my son's teacher about kindergarten. I remember bringing up the subject of kindergarten and she asked me “if I thought he was ready.” My first thought to this question was, “You are the teacher, you should tell me if you think he is ready.” But as nicely as I could, I asked, “Well, what do you think?” She proceeded to tell me she had no idea where he was at, and that she would start paying better attention and get back to me.
So, two things threw a red flag for me here. First, my son's teacher is not sure if he is ready. He is already going to be labeled as a child who is not up to par with the rest of his classmates and second, there are only 13 students in his class with 2 teachers in that room and he is already getting lost in the crowd of students.
This is where we insert The Innovation School.
I heard of the school and immediately loved the concept of “Hands on Learning.” Learning by doing. WOW, what an amazing philosophy in itself. Something I never got to experience because society's way of learning was reading a book and listening to someone teach. I was never DOING in school to learn. Not until I reached college anyway. I had to learn this on my own after having already completed 13 years of school as a child.
I also saw that school puts a big emphasis on Mindfulness. Taking time to pause, journal, meditation and yoga. Taking time to go outside and walk multiple times a day. Now as a life coach, this is all right up my alley. I know the importance of pausing from the craziness of the world and taking some time for self care, and the impact that it can make not only for ourselves but for the world... the impact that it also has on our learning.
I also learned that they take into account each child’s personality. They figure out each child’s strengths and challenges. They then work collectively as an entire school to accomplish a task. Whether it be the 1st graders learning to read and reading to the Kindergarten or Pre-K. Or the older students presenting a project to the younger students. Everyone is working together to learn. There is no such thing as someone is behind or someone is better than another. It’s the idea that every child is unique in their own way and we all are here to help one another to accomplish a bigger mission in this world.
I immediately scheduled a meeting with Maggie and knew I needed to be a part of the school. I remember sitting in the meeting begging Maggie to add us to the list, which was already a wait list. I made sure we made multiple appearances over that year before kindergarten started so she would remember that we were extremely interested in attending the following year. I just knew this is what we needed.
We were happy when we received the notification that we could enroll. Sebastian has been with the school for the last 2 years and he has never once complained to me that he wasn’t smart enough, or he needs extra help because he doesn’t understand. Every day he comes home eager to go to school the next day and learn more. He is receiving the education that I wish was available to me when I was in school and the education that I wish every other school and organization could understand. We don’t all learn from reading a book or watching a video. Thank you to Maggie and the entire staff at The Innovation School for opening the world to more opportunities and possibilities. We will be forever grateful!!