Thursday, October 10, 2013

Education Is Very Important for Your Little Star (Part 2)

Little Stars Academy

The teachers and staff of Little Stars Academy are committed to helping every child develop to their own individual potential in an atmosphere that fosters a balance between each child’s social, physical, intellectual and emotional development. We provide a well-balanced curriculum supported by a professional staff dedicated to encouraging each child to reach their maximum potential.

Oma’s interview with Jessica, the founder of “Little Stars Academy Temecula”  continues. (See Part 1 here)  

Question Two of Three:

Oma: Please give us the “The Little Star” story – the when, why, how . . . . .

Jessica: After having my own son I ended up working as a part-time job share teacher for 3 years. I loved the kids that I worked for and the parents I met but I quickly started to dislike the system. I experienced an environment where many coworkers were not there to put kids first, were not there to help shape lives, or to help them learn the things they needed to know. I experienced bad and in some cases downright scary teachers, principals who honestly cared more about bullying staff then they did about changing a school’s culture, and a district that was determined to change the system every year just because they could. I knew in my heart as much as I loved my school that I would never send my son there. I couldn’t stand the idea of not being comfortable with him being in every classroom on campus.

I started to look elsewhere for job options and school setting for my son. I became involved in the would be start-up of a charter school for our community that just never seemed to go anywhere or get enough support. My amazing partner teacher who knew of my frustrations finally encouraged me to look into starting a private school. When I did I discovered that it actually could be a possibility.

I am a strong believer in the importance of a good foundation in kindergarten and 1st grade. Kindergarten today is essentially what 1st grade used to be. Kids learn to read in kindergarten now and if a child enters kinder without preschool they start out at a disadvantage. I also believe in small class sizes, which with budget cuts you will not find often. I wanted a school that provided that strong foundation in a small group setting that kept learning fun and engaging. I wanted a place where I could connect with parents and help them learn to help their children.

So with the help of my husband and the dream of the school that I would want for my own child we started putting the steps into motion in November 2011 while I was still working in public school. We started looking for a location and I started researching curriculums. We worked on the website, handbooks, and our philosophy for the school. In March of 2012 we moved into the space and started painting, building, and buying. We began taking appointments for tours and started to take students for our first year.

The 2012-2013 we had 6 kindergarteners and 1 first grader. We were a tight group from the beginning and the thing I loved most about our group that every child in there was there because their parents were looking for something unique and as special as their child was. Isn’t that exactly what I wanted for my son? It totally was. One of my former parent volunteers came to work with me. She is honestly the most hardworking dedicated person that I have ever known. She homeschooled two of her own children and knew the basics of teaching but set to work that year learning everything she could about what the kids needed and how to present the information in a beneficial and meaningful way. Once again I found the most enjoyment out of teaching and guiding her to be a better teacher!

Overall the year was hard, scary, and stressful but amazing at the same time. Going into our 2nd year we have 23 students in transitional kindergarten, kindergarten, and 1st grade.

What makes Little Stars better than public school is that we cater to each child. I often compare it to homeschooling but with a real teacher and peers in the mix. Each child in getting a variation of the Common Core Standards at the level they need. In public school most of the kids are being taught at the exact same level because there are so many kids in the class that the teacher could not possibly teach at all the levels needed. 

Most of the time you teach to the majority of your class and then work your butt off to bring up the low kids leaving the high kids to fend for themselves because you know they are fine and are not going to fail. It is these kids that I always felt the most disservice to because I would wonder if I really ever challenged them, ever taught them anything that they didn’t already know. Our small class environment means that we get a lot more work done in less time, which leaves more time with the subjects like science and social studies. These are the subjects that are often getting left behind in public school. 

With our multi-age peers in the room the kids are learning how to be more responsible like the older kids and more caring to the younger kids. We teach about respect, courtesy, and kindness not just about the academics.

(The Last Installment - Part Three – Will be Published Next Week)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.