For 25 years, public charter schools in Texas have created new educational opportunities that help our students thrive. More than 330,000 students attend public charter schools in Texas, guided by 20,000 committed educators. They are geographically diverse, spanning Amarillo to El Paso and Dallas to Brownsville. And so too are their reasons for choosing public charter schools.
So, why do parents and students choose charters? Here are some of their amazing stories and viewpoints:
Wendy Clark- Aristoi Classical Academy (Katy)
My name is Wendy Clark, and my children Kylie (9th), Emma (7th), Henry (5th), Lucy (4th) and Owen (Kdg) attend Aristoi Classical Academy in Katy. We chose Aristoi charter school because their classical curriculum lends itself well to helping ensure our children aren't just taught what to think but how to think. We appreciate the focus on logic and reasoning, which we feel is essential in a world ruled by emotion instead of reasoned dialogue. Additionally, we appreciate the smaller class sizes, the autonomy of the school board, and the family atmosphere our charter enjoys. They are doing exceptionally well at Aristoi and we are thrilled with their academic performance. We've been at Aristoi for 10 years now and can't imagine ourselves anywhere else. Our children have been well loved and cared for and are treated as if they are family by every teacher and staff member. Aristoi has been the epitome of a "safe place" for our family.
Maribel Leos- IDEA Robindale (El Paso)
My name is Maribel Leos and I have two children, Matthew attends IDEA Robindale while my son Victor attended IDEA Frontier. We chose this school because I wanted a place that my sons Matthew and Victor could not only receive an out of the box challenging curriculum but feel it a second home as well. I firmly believe school choice is a very personal decision because it sets the tone and path to your children’s life story during those impressionable young years. IDEA provides a sense of immediate responsibility with their core value statements that all the children learn. The curriculum makes me not only feel empowered as a parent but I know that a love of learning is being fostered within my children every day. My sons Matthew and Victor are both doing very well even during this pandemic with limited resources at times. They both have in fact a stronger commitment to education now more than ever.
Erin Winter- Parent, Founders Classical Academy of Flower Mound (DFW)
We choose charter because we felt public schools sometimes focused on the wrong things and we were looking for a more intentional experience. We fell in love with the high quality teachers who go beyond curriculum to exhibit and teach virtuous living. We also wanted to expose our children to social, racial and ethnic diversity in a high quality educational environment.
Tracy Traeger- Parent, Gateway College Prep (Georgetown)
My name is Tracy Traeger and my son attends Gateway College Preparatory in Georgetown We chose this charter school because of the college entrance rate, the size, and flexibility. We expected all the normal challenges of K-12, but we have also been very happy with how the school has been able to navigate the unexpected challenges of a global pandemic. Our son is thriving in this environment where, because of the school size, he can interact with older players on his sports team, we can have a closer relationship with his teachers, the administrators know all the families, and we can build bonds that help ensure the kids in this community never get overlooked academically or socially. This close knit community helps ensure the intellectual, social, and emotional intelligence of our kids.
Nekeida Pierce - Parent, NYOS Charter School (Austin)
My husband and I want what most parents want for their children: the very best education possible so they would be positioned for success later in life. Though we value and appreciate larger district schools, my husband and I wanted something different for our children. We narrowed down what we felt was most important for their academic foundation: small class sizes, quality instruction, and character education. Though our neighborhood school is well-rated, it didn’t check all of our boxes. NYOS Charter School did. NYOS educates the whole child and challenges students with rigorous academics. Teachers incorporate a variety of learning strategies to meet student needs. NYOS also provides opportunities for service learning and civic engagement. The icing on the cake has been the school family we have developed over the years. A strong sense of school pride and belonging is vital for educational achievement. Our children have inherited a love for learning and a sense of belonging.
Patt Ramos - Parent, IDEA Public Schools
En lo personal me he dado cuenta que las escuelas charter generalmente tienen más flexibilidad que las escuelas públicas regulares, tienden a ser mas innovadoras y responden mejor a las necesidades de los estudiantes tienen un mejor rendimiento académico en lo personal para mi. Las escuelas chárter son una buena opción al considerar la educación de su hijo/a, ya que ofrecen una variedad de ambientes de aprendizaje para satisfacer sus necesidades. por ejemplo, para mi hijo ofrecen temáticas o currículos especializados, Y también las escuelas charter son lugares donde se promulga y se valora la participación de los padres. Mi hijo Gael y yo elegimos esta escuela considerando las necesidades y prioridades educativas de mi familia. Por ejemplo, ¿cuáles son las necesidades de su hijo/a y su estilo de aprendizaje? ¿Se desenvuelve mejor en grupos pequeños, o prefiere participar en el aprendizaje basado en proyectos? ¿Tiene su hijo un interés en las artes, o se beneficiaria de una escuela con estudio independiente? Cada una de estas preguntas nos la hicimos y nos dimos cuenta que estoy en una de las mejores escuelas Idea los Encinos, agradecida y muy contenta por el aprovechamiento que tiene mi hijo al estar aquí
Puja Singhal - Parent, Great Hearts (Irving)
We came to a point where we were no longer content with our children’s education at their local public ISD school. We heard about Great Hearts Irving opening up, and we were attracted to it for our sons Rohan and Rahul. The core reasons we chose it included Great Hearts’ academic reputation, its classical curriculum, and a safer environment. The dedication and qualification of the teachers is unparalleled. We have seen our children thrive the past five years. Rohan is now in 8th grade, and Rahal is in 6th grade at Great Hearts Irving. The school has been forming good character and teaching them the meaning of virtues such as truth and compassion, as well as providing a challenging academic curriculum. They have evolved into deep critical thinkers, which gives me a peace of mind that they will succeed at anything they want to pursue and contribute themselves in a noble, honest way. The school also brought us an unexpected delight we never felt at our traditional ISD school. We now feel part of a very involved parent community who are encouraged to participate and help the school in its vision.
The Fazal Family - Great Hearts (Irving)
As founding members of the first Great Hearts campus in Texas, the Fazal family has gone all in to support GH’s mission -- to cultivate the minds and hearts of students through the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. Mohammed and Sabina Fazal initially struggled with the decision to pull their son Adam from their neighborhood public elementary school in Carrolton-Farmers Branch ISD five years ago. Their son had a core group of friends that he had known since kindergarten, and he was performing well academically. But at Mohammed’s insistence, the parents enrolled Adam as a 5th grader in the Great Hearts Irving campus – which had not even opened yet. The Fazals have not looked back since. Now a sophomore, Adam is flourishing and set to graduate among the first waves of Great Hearts students in Texas. Sabina works as an assistant teacher for special education after spending several years as a parent volunteer, as a lunch mom and volunteering at the front desk. A classical education has been the right fit for Adam, they said, and the Great Hearts Irving parents have become like family. They can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Beatrice Cordova - Parent, Legacy Prep Charter Academy (DFW)
Why did we choose a charter? We are asked this question during kindergarten roundups at least once a week. Mainly from neighbors, friends and family members that are going through the process of picking a school the best fits their needs. It is a hard decision when you have a little one starting school and preparing them for their future. Especially now when there are so many options of ISD, private, charter, online and homeschool. My husband and I both attended the “normal” ISD school that was in our neighborhood and both did great in school. We both excelled and took honor classes and loved the academic and athletic aspect of it, but did we find ourselves bored? Yes, we did at times and wondered why we are just sitting here waiting for everyone to catch up. We discussed this and did not want this for our children. When our oldest was born, he was able to attend a preschool program from the ages of 2-5 we noticed signs of him being a hands-on learner. He learned quickly and at times wanted to learn more information about that topic. We also noticed other signs which later came with the diagnosis of ADHD. We knew then that our son would need something different than the typical “ISD” education. He would need smaller classroom sizes, more hands-on learning, the ability to go more in depth when learning and the support from his educators. We knew he needed to be in an environment that would push him to excel and question when he does not know. This has been a huge benefit for him in his
The Castañon Family – Great Hearts (San Antonio)
Sebastian Cantu was almost in high school before he found his school home at Great Hearts’ Monte Vista campus. Now a sophomore at the central San Antonio upper school, Sebastian had previously bounced around schools, including two different stints at a San Antonio ISD magnet and parochial schools. Great Hearts has been a safe haven from bullying and mediocre academics their family encountered at other campuses, his mother Chriselda Castañon said. “What solidified our decision to apply to Great Hearts was the culture that Great Hearts embodied. It was refreshing to see a classical approach to education.” said Chriselda, herself a graduate of North East ISD schools. “We felt the most valuable feature of a school is found in the people, beginning with the teachers. The teachers and staff at Great Hearts truly care about each and every student and the education they are receiving.” All three of Castañon’s children are now enrolled in Great Hearts. Besides Sebastian, their two younger children are at Great Hearts lower school campus. “It’s uplifting to witness my children’s love for learning. At those times I am assured we made the best decision for our family,” Castañon said. The Great Hearts academic environment has exceeded expectations for their family – the inclusive environment, the development of character, the high behavioral expectations, and the caliber of academics.
Angelica Sandoval- Parent, Legacy Prep Charter Academy (DFW)
To a parent one of the most important things is their children’s education. We want to make sure they are getting the education they need, but also be in a safe environment. This is why I chose a Charter School for my children. I really feel that the teachers and directors really care about the student’s education and wellbeing .I like how the students are able to meet with teachers in smaller groups if struggling with work and that the teachers are willing to help the student. I also chose Legacy Preparatory Charter Academy because they are a K-12 school and it is very convenient for working parents. It is also tuition free which is great since a lot of families are not able to pay for their children to get a good education. Another thing that I like is that Legacy is a college ready school which means they help prepare student for college and make it easier for them when they transition from high school to College. These are some of the reasons why I chose a Charter for my children .
Andrea Amador - Parent, YES Prep Public Schools (Houston)
There were several reasons I chose YES Prep Public Schools for my son. I spoke to parents from other YES Prep schools and they had nothing but exemplary comments, including that YES could prepare my son for a college education. Because my son has Autism and ADHD, my top priority was the quality of education he would receive. After looking at other schools, I chose YES Prep charter school. YES offered sixth through twelfth grade and that was perfect for him. At YES Prep the teachers showed him support and patience. He was given speech therapy, modified studies and he learned social skills. The school took him to visit both in-state and out –of-state colleges. To build his skills he did community service at BARC (animal shelter) and the YMCA. He even worked at the school coffee shop. YES offered a theater study where he flourished, and it helped him decide his career. Thanks to YES Prep charter school my son, Seth, is attending Houston Community College with a Major in Film Editing.
Kelli Denovellis - Parent, Life School (DFW)
Charter school parents gladly tell how charters meet the needs of their children. Life School parent Kelli Denovellis highlights the district’s warm culture. “We were in a school that was just proving to not be the right fit. [My son] is a very smart kid. He's always gotten A's. But, he didn't have any friends. He was certainly not connected with his teachers. My son is very well-behaved at school. But when he would get home… as soon as he got to me, [he] just came unwound. I started talking to some of my friends, and one of the girls that I worked out with was telling me where her children went, and they went to Life School. She talked about the diversity. She loved the teachers. She loved that the children – most of them – started in kindergarten and went all the way through 12th grade. We came for a tour. The counselor was amazing. She was very engaging. She was very warm. And we met his second-grade teacher. I could just feel the difference in culture.” Denovellis recommends that parents visit schools to meet the staff, visit a classroom, and make an informed decision for your child
Johnnie Ware - Parent, Life School (DFW)
Life School parent Johnnie Ware of Life Middle School Waxahachie (LMSW) brings a unique perspective to what it means to be a part of a charter school family. Her journey began when her children were accepted to Life School Red Oak (LSRO).“They were able to welcome my kids in. [...] If my kids were falling behind, they [teachers] would stay on them and teach them character along with helping them out.” Ware recalled. Crediting her children’s success to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, Ware tells how it further shaped her daughter’s career goals. “One thing I like about Life School is when they do Senior Projects. They really worked with my daughter in the Health program every step of the way. And now my daughter is studying Health Care Administration [in college].”From her charter school experience, Ware’s passion for education grew deeper. She joined the LSRO team as a Special Education paraprofessional in 2013. “When you think of a Paraprofessional, think about someone who helps keep students on the ‘right path,’ inspires, and models the kind of person we want our students to grow up to be,” said Kay LeBlanc-Kobs, Life School’s Special Education Manager.
Michelle McCurdy - Parent and Teacher, Wayside Schools (Austin)
I am the proud parent of 3rd and 5th grade scholars at Wayside Altamira Academy. I am also proud to be Altamira’s STEM teacher for our Pre-K to 5th grade scholars. Even before our oldest child was born, my husband and I discussed her education and where she would attend school. We landed at Altamira, and have been so grateful ever since. Her academic and personal growth have shown us repeatedly that Altamira was where we needed to be. We were so grateful to have a choice, and particularly to have another public school option. I believe in being an active participant in the world around me to bring positive change. I went from PTA and room mom to subbing to teaching. I come to work every day excited to open the world to the children I teach and to learn and grow with them. I am surrounded by wonderful people who truly love the work they do. Our entire network of schools is committed to ensuring that every child in our schools has the opportunity to reach their goals. I couldn’t be prouder of the place I work and where my children attend school.
Julie Castro - Parent, Wayside Schools (Austin)
My family decided to enroll in a charter school when my son was about to enter Kindergarten. What I love about Wayside Charter schools is how we built a community quickly. Since the school does not receive the funds that ISD schools do, it was up to us as parents, teachers and students to bring our talents together to make our school thrive. I work for Half Price Books, so my contribution was to build the school library with donated books. I remember our grand opening and the joy on the kids' faces along with the squeals of excitement. This memory will live with me forever! My son loves his school and his teachers. We ask him every year if he wants to continue going to Wayside. He continues to say he wants to stay with Wayside because his teachers really care, he has made life long friends. As a parent, I love that he has this sense of community, is learning and has the full support of his teachers at Wayside Schools. I am so glad we are able to be a part of this wonderful school system.
Karla Montalvo, IDEA Rio Vista College Prep Parent
I chose IDEA because our children needed a more one on one learning experience. We need a school that would keep them focus on their goals from a very young age and wanted to be part of a community were parents and teachers worked together.
Stephanie Requena- Alumna, Yes Prep Northside (Currently attending Notre Dame University)
My name is Stephanie Requena and I am a class of 2020 alumnus from YES Prep Northside. I believe strongly in the statement that all students deserve an education that gives them the ability to pursue and achieve any job or career that they desire. I am currently a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame studying Political Science as my major and Business Economics as my minor. Many of the experiences I had at the public charter school I attended helped me better transition into college life alongside many of my peers and gave me the opportunity to think about what I wanted to do in the future after my plans to go to college. The courses I took while at YES Prep allowed me to further my education in the context of the Texas high school curriculum while also challenging me as I continued to advance my education at YES. Even the small classroom environment helped me receive the one-on-one attention I needed every so often from my teachers and allowed me to form close relationships with them, many of whom I still keep in contact with today. Alongside forming close relationships with my teachers, I received academic guidance that helped me adjust to the professional/academic environment in college. While my career has not yet started, the education I received at my local public charter school gave me the opportunity to attend the school of my dreams and allowed me to have special conversations with my peers and my teachers which gave me the opportunity to pursue teaching with confidence after college.
Elijah Ramos - Student, Beta Academy
I am currently an 11th grade student who has been attending Beta Academy for 6 years. Let me say, it is an honor to be part of this amazing school! Many of our teachers and staff are sweet, warm, and genuine people. It has not always been an easy road for me. Coming from being home-schooled until the 5th grade, becoming familiar with a real school environment came with particular challenges. I was not used to the workload, nor the social aspects such as homework and group activities. I was only used to it being my house, my mother, and me. To be honest, I struggled with the transition. Luckily, the often-strict but respected teachers pushed, and pressed me to strive harder than I thought I ever could. The teachers were with me at every step of the way. Whether just answering a question, or providing emotional support, they were always by my side. The many early mornings and late nights studying made me want to quit. But by the end of my first year, I was an A student. Over the next few years, I felt my academic potential skyrocket. Now I have been accepted into the school's duel credit program at San Jac, on top of a number of honor societies. Beta has played an important role in my life. If you are looking for a VERY rigorous school that will mold you or your scholar into a hard working leader of character, then Beta Academy might be the place for you.
Sruti Ramachandran - Alumna, NYOS Charter School, currently a student at the University of Texas at Austin
The important things I learned from NYOS were more than just the academics. My experience at NYOS with the teachers, extracurriculars, and leadership opportunities I was granted taught me important skills regarding teamwork, time management, and making me into a more holistic student. My time at NYOS prepared me for post-secondary education by giving me experience with being an active student rather than a passive one. Coming from such a small environment where I was encouraged to ask questions, visit teachers during office hours, and really make personable connections, I realized that even though class sizes had been scaled up from 18 to 180 students per class, my interpersonal skills had also translated. I am less afraid to reach out and ask questions, because I know how much of a difference it will make in my learning.
Deunte Levine - Alumnus, Life School (DFW)
Deunte Levine is a first-generation college graduate turned civil engineer. After spending his K-12 career at Life School, Levine continued into the Civil Engineering program at Texas A&M. Through hard work, his academic success led to a career at Pape-Dawson Engineers. Levine credits his mother for his unrelenting determination. She enrolled him in Kindergarten at Life School soon after its founding in 1998 because she wanted something more for him. Levine says, “[...] She saw the values, the teachers, and the academics they had. She admired the discipline and how accountable the teachers were. That’s why she kept me in until I graduated.” In fourth grade, Levine lost his sister, which took an emotional toll. “Going through stuff like that, [My teacher] pulled me aside and said, ‘Listen… you may feel like you’re alone, but you’re not.’ She saw me at my weakest moment and my darkest hour and stepped in [...]” As coaches challenged him to sharpen his character, teachers encouraged him to never give up. Levine is a now a Level One Engineer, licensed as an Engineer In Training (EIT) and working towards his credentialing as a Professional Engineer (PE).
George Rojano - Alumnus, Austin Achieve
George Rojano felt “lost in the system” at his traditional public middle school—overwhelmed, failing classes, and disconnected from those around him. Then he found Austin Achieve. At his public charter school, George felt re-invigorated by teachers given the flexibility to innovate, smaller class sizes, and help with finding and nurturing his interests. He felt like “a person, not a number.” Austin Achieve guided George through every step of the college admissions process, including ACT prep and financial planning. Now, he’s not only a first-generation college student, but receiving a full scholarship to Stanford University. And he hopes to return to his community and give back once he’s done.
Netanya Schlamowitz - Alumna, Legacy Preparatory Charter Academy (Plano)
When Netanya enrolled at Legacy Preparatory in Plano as a seventh grader, she left behind a large traditional district setting and started receiving one-on-one attention from caring teachers who guided her to achieve goal after goal. Netanya started taking advanced classes in middle school. Then, in high school at Legacy, she progressed to dual-credit courses at Collin College. A course called Medical Microbiology made Netanya realize “that my goal in life was to do research in antibiotic resistance.” Today, the future MD attends Johns Hopkins on a full scholarship.
Ashton Edminster - Alumna, iSchool Virtual Academy / ResponsiveEd
Ashton Edminster enrolled at iSchool Virtual Academy, a ResponsiveEd school, because she already had a growing career as a musician. The flexibility of a public online program allowed her to grow her online presence and successfully graduate from high school. Now enrolled in the prestigious Berklee School of Music, Edminster continues to grow as a student and grow her online following as a singer/songwriter. The first song she released has been streamed over 4 million times.