Two years ago, I left the relative security of a predictable yearly salary in a public school system to start my own school. I loved working with the kids and I was blessed to collaborate with many dedicated and talented professionals at our public elementary school in north Fort Worth. However, after years of trying to find solutions, my conscience would not allow me to go on working in a system where I saw so many kids struggle. I will not cast blame on any one person because most people working in this system care about kids and work very hard. It’s the system. And because of federal mandates, state testing, and unreasonable standards for young children, I do not see much hope unless there is radical change.
After two years, I can honestly say I am glad I took the leap of faith! Our kids love coming to school. Creating a school that is beautiful, comfortable (not institutional), has room for lots of movement and play, and is innovative to meet kids’ needs is rewarding work. The benefits of a shorter school week, reduced homework, and a school that honors God, families, and serving others is evident in the faces and smiles of the children who attend. Many of the kids we have did not do well in traditional settings.
Having the freedom of offering SOI Certified Learning is another benefit that parents, teachers, and students have with our school. We know without a doubt if there are any gaps or glitches that hinder students from mastering content. If we find a gap, we stop and address it. I remember last fall, one of our 2nd grade students, Ellen, who reads well above grade level, could not identify a “diamond” shape. It was just a little bleep in her brain that kept her from learning that one shape. We were able to teach her and she learned the name of the diamond.
With Certified Learning, there is no “falling through the cracks,” because we know where every student is in attaining proficiency of their prescribed module or activity. There is now research to prove that our emergent model is best for kids.
Dr. Debbie Rhea, a TCU professor has created Project ISIS, based upon the Finland education model, which is designed to influence public education to change the structure of the school day to allow more recess, fewer school hours and character development. I applaud Dr. Rhea in her efforts to bring about change. Read Dr. Rhea’s latest blog about changing our education system.
Organizations like SOI and people like Dr. Rhea offer hope for many kids, if only the right people will listen and take action!
written by: Pam Jarvis, SOI Practitioner
Pam Jarvis, founder and Executive Director of Shady Oak Learning is a life-long lover of learning. She reared five children and now is proud grandmother to eleven grandchildren. In 2012, Pam’s vision of creating a school that was good for kids became reality with the creation of Shady Oak Learning and her after school program, Brain Workout. Pam received her BS in Speech Therapy from West Texas A&M University in and her M.Ed in Special Education. In her six years as a special education teacher for the Fort Worth ISD, Pam helped students with attention deficit disorder, dyslexia, learning disabilities and autism succeed in the general education classroom. Pam brings her unique blend of experience in private school settings, home-schooling and public education to create a one-of-a-kind place where learning is fun, engaging and challenging.