The New York Twenty: Real Charter Champions profiles the everyday people who are the champions to their children: parents and grandparents who make the critical choice to send their kids to charter schools. Over the next several weeks we will be sharing the real stories of charter parents around New York State. Today hear from Bronx mom Melissa Lomba.
My name is Melissa Lomba, and my daughter, Krystal Escalante, attends Girls Prep Middle School in the South Bronx.
I have been a single mother since my daughter was five. As a single mom, things can be difficult. The price of private education hit me when we broke up and it was time to enroll Krystal in Catholic school – I couldn’t afford it on my own so she attended a neighborhood school. I wanted her to be held to the highest standards, but soon saw I would not get that in a district school.
As my daughter approached middle school, I became more concerned about her education. Worrying about a school was an extra burden for a single mom. I needed additional support as Krystal grew and faced more challenges. I needed to know she was at a school that would be there for her – and that is exactly what we have now with Girls Prep.
I found out about the school as they were in a battle with the city to open their middle school. The city’s administration didn’t want to give the school a home in district school space. That battle was hindering Girls Prep from bringing their amazing program into my community.
As this situation played out, I learned about their curriculum and the vision they had for their students. I was impressed by the way they inspired their students to be more – including naming the classrooms after women who made an impact not only in the world, but within their own communities. I wanted my daughter to be a part of that, and I didn’t understand why the city wasn’t more welcoming. Luckily in the end, the community and elected officials banded together to make sure the school opened, and Krystal was able to start there.
The experience of having my daughter in a charter school has been life-changing! I used to only hear from my daughter’s teachers whenever she was being disciplined or during report card time. At Girls Prep, teachers call me and share their excitement when Krystal does great work. I can’t stress enough how pleased I am with the attention that teachers and administrators provide to individual students.
One specific instance sticks out in my mind. Krystal had never played a musical instrument in her life until she arrived at Girls Prep, and she picked the trombone. One day, I got a lovely text video from one of the administrators that read, “Ms. Lomba, I was walking around the school and couldn’t help but notice how much effort Krystal is putting into developing her skill. I hope you don’t mind, but I took this video of her for you so you can see for yourself!” And there was my daughter in all her splendor! Three months later, Krystal played a solo at their first Christmas concert. Words can’t express the joy and pride I felt!
In Krystal’s old schools, the leadership was usually inaccessible. Now, her principal is just as involved in the students’ development as much as the teachers’. She always tries to find opportunities that my daughter is suitable for, and her knowledge of Krystal as more than a face in the crowd shows her dedication. That really builds confidence in the students, as well as the teachers.
And the school is there for families. The staff helped me with getting supplies, which is incredibly helpful to a single woman like myself. It is a wonderful feeling to know her school is there to support her and she is being cared for. I know my daughter is in a safe, caring environment every day.
Krystal is being prepared for high school, college, and beyond. This school has built her confidence and integrity, and really motivated her to succeed. Everyone should want and support this unique approach to learning. I am truly grateful that my child has this opportunity, and I hope one day every child can experience this same type of education.