Betty Millwood was searching for a great preschool program for her youngest child when she learned about River Heights Academy, a PreK-8 charter school in Flat Rock. After she got to know the director of the preschool program for 4 year olds at River Heights Academy and learned about how her child would thrive through the play-based curriculum, she was sold. Choosing the right school for her youngest was an important decision.
There was only one problem. Millwood and her family lived in Lincoln Park, so River Heights Academy wasn’t exactly her neighborhood school. And she had four other children in public schools closer to home.
Her solution was simple. Instead of driving just one child to River Heights Academy, Millwood enrolled all of her children at River Heights Academy.
“We took our children out of the neighborhood school. Now, each day, we drive from Lincoln Park to Flat Rock,” she says. Millwood is happy to have her two eighth graders, sixth grader and kindergartner at River Heights Academy.
“There are no multiple drop-offs or pickups, and they all start school at the same time. It’s so convenient,” Millwood says.
Choosing the right school for smaller class sizes
The move to River Heights Academy also solved the problem of large class sizes that Millwood was seeing in her kids’ former schools. When the class sizes moved above 30 students per class, Millwood wondered if there was a solution that would provide a better educational experience for her kids.
“At River Heights, the classes are smaller, and they get a lot more one-on-one instruction from their teacher. They’re all doing extremely well,” she says.
When the class sizes are smaller, the whole educational community is more close-knit, and Millwood says that’s a benefit to her family.
“We all really enjoy the smaller environment. Everyone knows everyone else, and my kids know every single teacher. This helps, because the kids can’t get away with much,” she says with a laugh.
Academically, Millwood says she knows her kids are being challenged. “It’s not always a walk in the park for them, but there is after-school tutoring, and the teachers stay late if a student needs help,” she says.
This extra support is especially important to make up for learning loss that many children have experienced due to the changes in instruction during the pandemic.
And, when Millwood has a concern, she says she reaches out and gets a response promptly.
“I never have a concern that goes unnoticed,” she says. “I always get a follow-up, and this is huge because at their previous schools, they may have taken care of it, but I didn’t get a call back. At River Heights, there’s always a solution, and they always get right back to me.”
Choosing the right school is so important
With so much relative unrest in schools following the pandemic, teachers, students and administrators are working hard to get back on track. River Heights Academy has provided just what her family needs, Millwood says, and she’s glad she made the move.
“It was definitely worth the move, even with the drive,” Millwood says. “If you want a sense of family in your school with smaller classrooms where there’s more one-on-one time, this is the school for you.”
Parents might wonder if it makes sense to move their child to a new school even after the school year has started. Millwood encourages parents to seek out what they believe their child needs and make that move if necessary.
“A lot of parents have worries after the pandemic and might be bouncing around, not quite finding what they need,” she says. “I did find what I needed and I hope other parents can do the same.”
Learn more about River Heights Academy. Visit riverheightsacademy.org.