By Sharon Wallace-Thomas
I was so happy that my sister, Shannon Wallace-Taylor, introduced charter schools to me. Between us, we have five children attending public charter schools, but I want to tell you about my son, Kentrell Thomas, and what a difference Magnolia Montessori for All has made in his life and mine.
From kindergarten through third grade, Kentrell attended the local elementary school across the street from my home. I would receive reports from the school that Kentrell had behavior problems, he was bullied by other students, and he was struggling academically. I went to the school time after time, asking for help but Kentrell didn’t receive the assistance he needed in order to learn.
Because of his behavior issues, we went to a doctor for an evaluation and he was placed on medication for ADHD at age six. All of the teachers at school were glad that he began taking medication because it resulted in him being quiet. However quiet he was, Kentrell was in a zombie-like state and he certainly was not learning. I was fed up with the local school, however conveniently located it was to our home. This was a consideration for my husband and I since managing multiple schedules for each child is challenging as working parents.
At the recommendation from a church friend, I began looking into Montessori schools. One campus charged tuition, but then there was Magnolia Montessori for All, which is a public charter school that is tuition-free. After taking a tour and visiting with the principal, I knew this was the right fit for Kentrell. However, the principal said there was a waiting list. Eventually, Kentrell and my youngest daughter were admitted.
This year, Kentrell is in the fourth grade and he is thriving at Magnolia. Two months after he arrived at Magnolia, he stopped taking medication to treat ADHD and he is doing well with the help of other medication and his teacher. When he arrived, he was essentially illiterate and unsociable. Since he has been at Magnolia, he is now able to read at a second-grade reading level, and he is working on phonics to address a speech impediment. At home, he even teaches me math methods with beads and division, and I have an accounting degree! With the Montessori Method of learning, he is able to go at his own pace. Kentrell said to me, “I always wanted to be like my sister, Mia, and cousin, Mya, always reading and now I can! Magnolia rules!”
He is also friends with every child in his class and has become sociable, even joining a baseball team. Kentrell tells me, “My school community is now my family!” He loves his teachers, Ms. Alex, Ms. Amber, and Ms. Katie, and I have a wonderful working relationship with all of his teachers and the principal. “My principal, Ms. Sara, knows all her kids and she greets us every morning by name with a smile,” Kentrell tells me. I am so thankful for this public charter school and know that it has changed my son’s life.