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 read what Harlem mom Nicole Fleming has to say about her daughter's charter school.
When it came time to enroll my daughter Alexis in kindergarten, I wanted her to have the education I know she deserves. I wanted her to excel, but I knew if I sent her to the neighborhood school in our district she wouldn’t receive the attention and focus she needs.
I had already experienced this with my first child. Although she graduated, it was a constant struggle to find the best possible learning environment for her. She was labeled and pushed through the system, never put in a place where her uniqueness was embraced or challenged to help her succeed.
I wanted things to be different with Alexis. That’s why I looked into charter schools. I enrolled Alexis in Future Leaders Institute Charter School for kindergarten, and now she’s a 7th grader on the honor roll and looking ahead to such a bright future. This school has been a blessing.
Future Leaders Institute has done so much to prepare Alexis for high school and life beyond the classroom. She is at the top of her class and is hoping to get into one of the top five high schools in Manhattan because of FLI. All she ever talks about is advancing and achieving academically. This school pushes the students to succeed.
And that doesn’t mean putting pressure on the kids. The school sets high standards and works with each child to make sure they reach that level. The staff goes above and beyond. They reach out to the families to share the good news and the bad, and they make sure every child gets the support they need.
I’ve seen it in how they’ve worked with my daughter. The staff at FLI are always there to give Alexis extra attention when she needs it. In turn, Alexis even tutors students in the lower grades. She dreams big because of FLI. She knows she will be a leader one day, and we owe that to this amazing school.
From Alexis’s first moments at FLI, the staff felt like an extended family. They unite all of the children and families and instill core values in each student. They rely on support from the staff and parents to foster a wonderful environment. FLI’s philosophy is that every child is unique and deserves to be heard and be themselves. They want the school to be a safe and fun place to come and learn. The teachers care about each student as individuals – and that is an incredible thing to see.
This school offers so many great activities from chess to dance. HBO (yes, the cable network!) has even partnered with the school to provide activities like acting and drama classes. Programs like this help to expand the children’s horizons both socially and academically. FLI celebrates their students quarterly with cultural and performing arts presentations. They even offer workshops for parents and students throughout the year to bring us all together.
I am the product of the traditional public schools, and I have seen what those schools did for my older daughter. I was curious to see how a charter school would be different, and I was hopeful that I had found a school that would really engage Alexis and push her to be more. Future Leaders Institute has done just that.
I hope this encourages parents to never give up on finding the right school for their child. There are teachers and staff that really care, and I have seen firsthand how a charter school can make a difference in the life of a child.