Parents want all schools to be great

Commentary by Camden parent Jackie Moreno in the Courier-Post

10/21/15

 I was one of the dozens of parents that attended the release recently of the superintendent’s plan for Camden schools. As the mother of six children in public schools, both district and Renaissance schools, I want all schools to be great. My two oldest attend Brimm Medical Arts High School. My next three children attend Mastery schools and my baby girl is at Acelero pre-kindergarten.

Not too long ago, I was homeless. I grew up in Sicklerville. I dropped out of high school in 10th grade. I’ve been slowly working my way to a more stable life. I just got my GED. I moved last year from Philadelphia to Camden to live with my aunt.

It was a difficult time for me and my children, especially for my daughter Katlyn. She was very depressed. Fortunately, last year I enrolled her in kindergarten at Mastery Cramer Hill School. Today she is the happiest girl in the world. She came out of her shell and blossomed. The care and attention of the teachers is amazing. By the second marking period last year, she was on the first-grade level and this year at Back to School Night her teacher told me they are introducing her to second-grade work. Now, I couldn’t be happier.

Last year, I kept my older children in the local district school but this year I moved them all to Mastery’s Molina School.

My son who is in seventh grade has a mood disorder and ADHD. In the past, he was never committed to school and never enjoyed it. Honestly, every day last year was an argument or fight with me just to get him to school. Not this year. Not at Mastery Molina. Now he gets me up and he gets breakfast for his sisters so he can get to school on time. Now he is happy and eager to go to school. He even does his homework and projects!

I almost fainted the other day when he said, “Mom, in order for me to succeed in life, I need to take responsibility for my own actions”! I have never ever seen him so happy in his life. And that makes me soooo happy.

The way the teachers work with my kids is wonderful. I like the techniques they use with the kids. They connect with them and my kids are motivated. I have never seen that in any of the other schools they attended and I never experienced that myself coming up.

My two oldest are freshman at Brimm Medical Arts School. They are doing well, though I do think my son could be challenged more academically. What’s great is that my daughter wants to be a pediatrician and my son a veterinarian, so the school is an excellent fit for them. I’m lucky that I was able to make the choices that I thought were best for my children.

As you can see, I am a parent who wants the best for my children. I don’t want them to do what I did — to drop out in 10th grade. I want them to do well in school, graduate, go to college and have a shot at a good job. I think every parent does. Now that my kids are in Mastery schools, I feel like they have a real shot at success.

The best thing about these new Renaissance schools like Mastery is that they are public schools, open to every Camden child. They are our neighborhood schools.

That’s why I am grateful for Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard’s work in improving all schools in Camden and giving parents more options, like the Renaissance schools. I will and I know other parents will keep working so that every child in Camden can go to a great school.

Jackie Moreno lives in Camden.

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