Parents know that when their children are motivated, challenged and encouraged, they’ll succeed in school. Smart parents know that when they form a partnership with their child’s school, it’s a winning formula for everyone involved.
When Ianna Brinkley was looking for just the right school, she had a specific environment in mind, given that her then kindergarten-aged daughter had just attended a Montessori school. “We applied openly for a charter school and we hit the jackpot. My daughter started kindergarten at Achieve Charter Academy in Canton and we kept going from there,” Brinkley says.
The commitment to individualized learning at Achieve Charter Academy, a K-8 charter public school in Canton, was similar to what she experienced in the Montessori classroom.
“At Achieve, when students get to third grade, they are able to pursue advanced math and advanced learning. I wanted my child to continue to grow, and this was absolutely the best place for her,” she explains. Her daughter has since graduated from Achieve and attends an International Baccalaureate high school and Brinkley’s younger daughter is currently a third-grade student at Achieve.
Fellow Achieve parent Jeff Ellis shares a similar experience. “We saw the individualized instruction we were convinced our sons would get at a charter school and Achieve lives up to this,” Ellis says. “I saw that wherever your child is at with their learning, the teachers at Achieve would meet them there and lift them up, whether they struggle, are average or exceptional. My two sons performed well and were challenged by the advanced math.” Ellis’ older son went on to attend a private high school; his younger brother is in eighth grade at Achieve.
Both parents say they’re impressed by the continuous assessments and adjustments made by the teachers at Achieve. “I know they are not just looking at the child’s beginning-of-the-year assessment, but that throughout the course of the year, they are adjusting based on how that child performs,” Ellis says.
Supporting teachers for their kids’ success
The level of insight Ellis and Brinkley have into their children’s classrooms comes from their commitment to their kids’ education — and the teachers who work so closely with their children each year.
“I come from a long line of educators, so it feels like I’m supposed to be a teacher, even though I work in IT,” Brinkley says with a laugh. “When it comes to support, I know you don’t have to be in the classroom all the time, but you do have to be informed. Having regular communication with your child’s teacher makes a big difference.”
That inside knowledge of what her daughter is learning is necessary when Brinkley helps her daughter with homework — and it fills the teacher’s motivation bucket, too. “When teachers see parents involved, it gives them more support and confidence,” she says. “It’s so important for us, — not just us parents, but everyone — to help our teachers. It makes a big difference.”
‘You can’t ask for more from a school’
Disrupted classroom learning during the COVID pandemic hit home for both parents just how challenging teaching can be.
“As unfortunate as it was, during COVID to see the teachers and administrators, the whole team at Achieve and the way they handled virtual learning, then hybrid and the transition back to the classroom, to me that illustrated just how much their students — our children — were at the center of what was important to them, to their profession,” Ellis says.
He adds that the moral focus that serves as a foundation at Achieve was even more important during the pandemic. “I remember when we were home and the boys were learning here and interacting with their teachers virtually, I took them aside to highlight the virtue and dedication of their teachers. It’s part of the program at the charter school and it empowers them to be good and holds them accountable,” Ellis says. “It gives them the space to be good young citizens and when their teachers are examples, as a parent, you really can’t ask for more from a school.”
And, the fact that both of their students are now succeeding in challenging high school environments means that the educators at Achieve continued to hold high expectations of their students, even during the COVID pandemic.
This was when many parents got an insider’s view of their children’s classrooms, and Brinkley says what she learned was confirmation that she made the right decision to send her children to Achieve.
“You assume teaching is so easy because you see teachers smiling and laughing with the kids. But it was eye-opening when my child was learning at home,” Brinkley says about witnessing virtual learning during COVID. “The way the teacher started class in the morning with stretches and yoga to help them clear their minds, then moving into math problems, it was…wow! That’s education right there — my child learning without realizing it, and me sitting there and listening to how the teacher was interacting with my child. I knew I didn’t have to worry because she was doing a great job with my child. And I really appreciated the hard work from the teachers.”
Proud to be Achieve Charter Academy parents
Both Ellis and Brinkley share they’ve heard negative comments about charter schools, and are quick to defend Achieve Charter Academy based on their own first-hand experiences.
“You’ll always have that one individual who can make things come across as if it’s horrible, but Achieve Charter Academy is a great charter school and we’ve been there for 12 years,” Brinkley says. “I see and have witnessed and can say confidently that my charter school is a great school.”
With his son now succeeding in high school, Ellis says the rigor that his family found at Achieve is what set a great foundation for life-long success.
“Achieve really gave my sons a learning environment where parents are expecting high levels of professionalism. It’s a school that expects parents to be engaged and I see a lot of parent involvement,” he says. “From the top down at Achieve, the principal, deans and teachers are all there to help your child succeed. The individualized focus, the moral focus and the dedication of the teachers — it’s all there.”