Reimagining Education

Leola Calhoun

Leola Calhoun

My name is Leola Calhoun and I have a daughter who is in the first grade at KIPP: Wisdom and I am very concerned about the lawsuit being brought against the charter schools.

My desire to ensure a high quality education for my children started with my experiences growing up. I started in St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) and had a terrible experience. Teachers would throw books and didn’t seem to care or show initiative. They didn’t even communicate when homework was due. They were obviously just there for the paycheck.

I then got to transfer out to Lindberg through the deseg program and it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I saw what education was for the first time and I was actually learning. At first the classes were difficult because I was being challenged. Social studies was such a different experience. They actually taught and taught throughout the whole class.

Unfortunately, due to challenges at home, I was forced to drop out to help raise my siblings. My husband is also a high school dropout so we vowed that our children would have it better than we did and graduate and go onto college.

Our experiences in SLPS with my older two children has shown me that nothing has changed from when I had attended back in the 80’s. They couldn’t even list three things they had learned at school that day. The stories they came home with were unheard of including teachers cursing, throwing staplers at kids and so many other terrible experiences.

We started going up to the schools and saw it all first-hand. We saw kids playing in the hall and not in the classroom learning. We didn’t see any love. Teachers didn’t show concern and there was no sense of team or family. Homework was being done at school, which is wasted valuable instruction time.

Even though my older children attended SLPS they are successful because we were diligent and stayed on top of the schools and teachers but it was a daily struggle. By the grace of god they graduated with honors and are now in college.

When looking to options for our youngest daughter, we were introduced to charter schools and there is no comparison. It’s just indescribable. We have not had one bad experience. At KIPP they have badges to reward positive behavior each day. They communicate with the kids daily to let them know how they are doing. They don’t wait till the end of the year to give awards.

Parents can call until 7:30 at night. The teachers and administrators give you their personal cell phone numbers. They are great at listening to parents. They value our opinion and have given us everything we have asked for including more email communication and a parent portal to check on our child’s progress. They even take the time to come out and do a home visit. There’s a real sense of team.

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