Dear Mr. & Mrs. Starr,
I know I talk about how happy and grateful I am to have my children at Shining Starr Learning Academy, but I wanted to send you a note of thanks too!
My children sat in public schools for several years lost and neglected because they gave up on them and told me several times they “don’t know what else to do for my kids” and “Your children will most likely get through life being functional readers” meaning they will know basic daily words like stop, go, walk etc... I’ve been told some pretty difficult things in my life and that was one I knew I could do something about, and a week after that meeting, I found you.
My children love going to school: they have a new found passion for learning and the spark for creativity and confidence in their eyes which has never been there before. I was at school today for lunch and said to them I would take them home early and thought they would be excited about coming home early!! Instantly, they both said “No, we want to stay at school,” which has become their second home.
My son is adding, subtracting and multiplying two digit numbers and his reading is improving weekly. He tells me all sorts of facts, even facts I never knew! Not once has he cried about going to school like he did in the morning when he was in public school. I am beyond ecstatic with the possibilities in front of him at Shining Starr Learning Academy.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about my daughter. It is hard to express through this note just how much things have changed for her and the notion of “going to school.” No longer does she sit in a classroom with her peers staring off into space because she can’t grasp the material and can’t read the work in front of her. She used to be walked down to the “slow room” to sit in a room with kids with behavioral issues or kids that would scream or bang their head against the desk. Her friends began to realize that she was in class with these kids and started making fun of her. I used to send my kids to school knowing they were not receiving what they needed to learn or succeed but did not know any better and thought this was the best there was for them. All of that has changed thanks to your school. No more being pulled out of class or walks of shame down to the “slow room.” Now, my daughter is excited, willing and challenging herself to read and learn. Every week she tells me about the books she is finishing and new books she is reading one on one with Mrs. Stockton! She is utilizing “Mrs. Bonnie’s” methods to try and sound out words and wakes up eating breakfast and has book in her hand. She has made immeasurable progress in your school in 6 months compared to the four years she sat lost in the public school system.
Now for Mrs. Duquette and Mrs. Stockton! They are simply amazing teachers who have probably one of the hardest but yet most rewarding jobs out there. They are always smiling and such positive role models to have standing in the classroom with your students and their patience is sainthood worthy! Their weekly updates are detailed and I know exactly what transpired for the week so I can talk about it with my kids. I am so thankful for them and their love for all the students at Shining Starr Learning Academy and how it shines through daily!
I am ecstatic for the second half of the school year. I know this journey like any journey in life will have its ups and downs. But all I know is my kids love going to school and to me that’s enough to turn any down into an up!
Dear Mrs. Starr,
I want to thank you so very much for all you do for us at Shining Starr Learning Academy. From the moment I spoke with you on the phone the first time, I was so excited about your school and the individualized attention and flexibility that it offers. During the tour we had the next day, I could see your passion for the students and the vision of your school. I felt confident that any gaps my children had in their education would be addressed and caught up while their strengths would continue to thrive at the accelerated rate they needed. I had peace knowing that you and your teachers would treat my children as family and that they would be appreciated and cared for the same way I would in my home. I loved the atmosphere of the classrooms and the philosophy of your eclectic curriculum. I knew that this was the education that would perfectly fit our needs.
I was so thrilled to be welcomed as a volunteer in your school. I was immediately impressed by you, the principal, being so involved with the kids! I remember coming to help in the early weeks of the year and finding you teaching art to the whole school. I can still picture the delighted faces of the students as they worked and their proud faces as they showed me their masterpieces. I was especially moved by your excited face to be able to work with the students. I have never known of a principal with such an involved role in the student's education. Another first impression I had was seeing the classes during silent reading time. I walked into my child's class and heard beautiful classical music while the students read. Some were sitting at their desks, others sat on the floor against the wall, and several laid comfortably on the rug. What a beautiful sight!
I immediately saw tremendous progress for my boys. My sweet middle boy, who loved to write but had no form or ability to spell. It was so hard to read his work. After working with Mrs. Chabot, he has beautiful handwriting, perfect form, and he is spelling so well! In just a month, she transformed him! He came out of his shell at your school and he loves to participate! By chance one day, I was able to see him presenting to his class what he had learned about a planet he researched. He had so much information to share and was so excited to share it! I loved the response of respect and interest he was given from Mrs. Chabot and the other students in his class. He is no longer my shy little boy! He loves moving to the older class to do math with Ms. O'Boyle. He takes great pride and has much enjoyment being able to move up for math with her. He enjoys the challenges she gives him and appreciates her ability to make difficult problems easy to understand and fun.
I am completely floored by the progress made by youngest son in Mrs. Duquette's classroom. At the beginning of the year, he knew most of his vowel sounds and could count to ten. As a kindergartener, he can now add and subtract four digit numbers with carrying! He is decoding large words and reading them to me! In the car in the morning, he reads me books every day. In his free time, he is choosing to read, make his own math problems, write, and draw pictures. Last week, he taught a 12 year old family friend from a different school how to decode words and showed his ability to read words that child did not know! On the weekend, he asks me to teach him "home school." This little guy is EXCITED about learning! Mrs. Duquette is a gift to all of her students!
My oldest son, who truly loved home school, is your school's biggest fan. I wasn't sure how he would feel leaving our home school environment, but he has never looked back. He loves his class and his friends. He loves whole school instruction and break out groups. He loves being able to do research and the hands on activities that go along with learning. He frequently talks about enjoying the math manipulatives, particularly for fractions. The learning palette is a lot of fun for him, whether he does it individually or with a friend. I appreciate so much the patience Mrs. Chabot has for his need for extra time with writing. The way she can juggle the individual, diverse needs of her class is incredible. She has the patience of a saint, an incredible sense of humor, and is clearly very respected and loved by her students.
It was most unexpected when you invited me to join your team to teach at the school. Accepting that honor has been the best decision I could have made. I love the atmosphere you provide for your staff. Every day I get to come to work and laugh, collaborate, support, and be supported by the team. I know that I am valued. I know that if I need help, you and the other teachers are there for me to help me grow. I thank you for always being there for me both professionally and personally. I thank you for being the boss who wants to make me my best, not focused on my deficits. I appreciate that you constantly encourage me and give me positive feedback. I thank you for giving me the leeway to be able to teach all of my students at their pace. I thank you for the freedom to suggest and use curriculum that I have found on my own. I thank you for encouraging me to do lots of activities with the students even when they are messy or loud. You have created an atmosphere where learning is fun and teaching is fun! Your school is a place where students WANT to be. They miss it during breaks and on the weekend. They are not counting down the hours until they have to leave. Often, learning is so fun it feels like playing. What an amazing place that is inspiring the students to have a love for learning!
I can't imagine where we would be without you and your school. Your dedication and vision has created a life changing atmosphere for my family and for the other students at your school. Thank you so much for being who you are and sacrificing so much for us. I cannot possibly express my gratitude to you. You are amazing!