Back to School Thoughts

Progressive Back to School Thoughts

Sticking it out with my Children’s Charter School Academic Program



As a chief architect of my children’s educational progress, what am I supposed to do when I see that leadership and academic atmosphere in their school program are not totally aligned with the district’s philosophies and my family’s? Do I start working on my students’ transfer papers or do I stay put and wait for things to improve?

I have some misgivings and disillusionment with how the concept of Montessori was applied during classroom days in our Charter School, in the past year. For instance, not all the teachers hired to run the student center were certified for Montessori teaching, or at the very least, showed some familiarity with the concept. For the home school part, the parents were not provided with adequate curriculum support and materials they were promised (talk about false advertisement!). Personally, I was grateful for my fifth grader’s teacher’s generosity in sharing online resources and materials she had. These online resources helped me in my home schooling, but my family still had to bear a considerable cost for materials, resources and activities for the majority of the subjects taught. In any case, not one of these concerns was enough to make my family decide to leave and look for another program. As long as the players are willing to resolve the kinks in the system, we are pleased to give it a chance to work.

What about it when a leader in the institution who was supposed to instill proper values to my children acted unprofessionally and disrespected me as a person, or when a program coordinator abandoned her support all too sudden because of her unwillingness to accept leadership responsibility; will these push me to say, “I have enough!” and find a better school? I was certainly pushed to say, “I cannot take any of this crap!” And I won’t.

This year marks our family’s second academic year in the Montessori Academy hybrid school program. A hybrid program means the students benefit on combined home school and student center academic learning programs. Although I will only give an assessment of “developing” when it comes to the Academy’s educational success as a philosophy, I am choosing to stay and work it out with my counterparts. I am committing my family to join hands with them to help make this school the best school for my children.

I look at my children’s school as an institution for learning. It is a bonus if my family’s connection to it’s people develops into a familial type; but I have no such illusion. My foremost responsibility and accountability is to my family – to my children. I am relentless when my students’ well-being is concerned. I give my time, resources and energy to their school. I send emails, ask questions, and actively discuss with teachers how we could best help bring out my children’s potentials, and how we could work around any weakness we see in them.  I did not enroll my children to this Charter School to win the friendship of the teachers and staff members. Instead, I forged a partnership with them. Even so, I conduct myself in a manner that will bring dignity to my family and to the philosophies of their academic program. As in any relationship, disagreements, disappointments and falling-out would sometime happen.

Again, the question I was standing -on vulnerable occasions- was whether I would recommend my family to walk away, or would I tell them to stay and try to work it out with the people who run the system? The answer would remain the same. As long as the players are willing to resolve the kinks in the system, we are willing to give it a chance to work.

After a regrettable event, a leader in the Academy asked how she could be a better director for parents in terms of her relating and meeting with them. I cannot think of any concrete suggestion. There is no manual for common-sense, but there are sensible tips to follow to be better at your social relations especially if you serve as director or head of a group of people, an organization or institution.

  1. Treat others how you would prefer your loved-ones to be treated. If you are not comfortable for other people to be rude, dismissive and arrogant to your loved-ones, then do not demonstrate any of these to others.
  2. Being tactless is not the same as being truthful or frank. Tactlessness carries venom of malice and hidden desire to inflict pain.
  3. Leave your emotional baggage in the closet. It is understandable each of us has neuroses to deal with, but being rude is not going to help getting rid of these. It is best to cast them aside, and smile when with people who are the reason why your job was created in the first place.
  4. The only resume that matters to people is the one that is embedded in your behavior. This is the only credential that others will remember of you.
  5. Accessibility does not necessarily mean you have to be physically available to your clients or to people with whom you serve. The essence of accessibility lies in the consistency of the message you give.
  6. Humans make mistakes and they should not be judged by their fallibilities. However, your character will be defined by what you take from life’s lessons. Learn well and you will govern well.
  7. Finally, if you cannot walk your talk, sock it.

It is unfortunate – if only because of a miscalculated priority – principles of what the Charter stands for were lost. Luckily, it should not be a total lost for anybody. A huge part of the process of successful living and leading is establishing and acting on valuable matters. How do you prioritize when simultaneous priorities confront you? I say, always know that people are a priority. Also, verifying each one’s level of urgency is critical. Begin to understand that leads you can let go and those you can postpone are NOT serious priorities. The choice you make will express your values and skills as a parent, educator, student, an executive, leader, and a person.

In some seminars and workshops, a vision of a progressive parent would be described. What is often not discussed is what to do when a school’s vision of a progressive parent becomes a reality. How do teachers recognize this breed of emerging parents? How will teachers respond to them?

I am a wife of an active military officer who is always away on deployments and assignments. I am an involved-mother of four terrific kids. I am a passionate mom; a mom who takes it upon herself to go out to the world to discover ways to help her kids grow into the best people they could ever become. I do not assign blames for failures and set-backs I see from my academic community. Instead, I volunteer to become a part of the solution. To a large extent, I am the parent the school leadership and visionaries talk about at seminars and workshops. I have arrived, yet I suspect an unfortunate reality that my children’s school may not be ready for my kind. It could be frustrating I admit. I was once assumed of being too particular with scores when I inquired about a radical change in my son’s grade. I was told not to worry because he will still get high marks at the end of the school year. He did extremely well; he got straight As. Just the same, I had to remain focused in explaining to my counterpart – that what I was concerned was the change in my son’s pattern of behavior, and not his grade. My intent was to investigate a potential issue and deal with it before it becomes a concern.

I cannot walk out this easily. I am committed to helping the institution’s promises and philosophies become a reality. No school becomes a success without parents, administrative staff, leaders and teachers who are willing to set aside their differences, biases and comfort zones, so that they can work together as one unit. Our family is staying with the Montessori Academy, at least for this year. I hope it works out for my children’s sake.

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