The Daily Difference
My name is Starr and my family is new to the Acceleration Academy. I'm really excited about the differences I see, so I am going to take a moment to share a bit of our journey.
Brief background; I have a 16 year old son who is magical. He is kind, patient and hardworking. He is a very athletically-inclined person and would rather do anything but stare at a book, or listen to a class lecture. He always does his best, and I am ok with that.
When he started to struggle in traditional school, I followed the rules and the chain of command to see what I could facilitate or create to resolve the issues. We went to meetings, did extra credit projects, and signed contracts for special arrangements that were meant to help him achieve success. Side note, I am not the parent who thinks my son can do no wrong, so I was extra hard on him too.
However, even with all the effort we were pouring in to getting past the problems, the only result was strain on our family; nothing changed at school; not even a little. If anything, now we wore targets, and it was getting worse. We had too many questions, we were non-traditional, and how dare my son have an opinion and not be a doormat Our daily "How was school..." conversation was stressful and causing division between me and my son. That was the last straw.
Like any parent, I want what is best for my children. I want them to accept responsibility for their actions, be kind, and advocate for themselves. I want them to work hard and be the very best at whatever they choose to do for their future.
We fought hard to stay in traditional high school, because we didn't know there was any other option.
I learned about the Bethel Acceleration Academy through my job and immediately called for more information. The person who answered was knowledgeable, non-judgmental and efficient. Even the tone of the call was different. It was clear that I was not an annoyance or a disruption to his day, I was simply a parent trying to find a better way for my student. At this point, I had some very brief and thorough conversations with my son. Was this something that he would be willing to try in order to change the direction of his learning? What was his opinion? How would this be different then what we are doing now? Ultimately he was so close to giving up, I didn't want to add more weight to the situation. I gave him time to process and waited for him to bring it up.
Turns out he was interested. We made an appointment and went to just listen to what was offered.
When we visited, it was as though we were in a whole different world. There was positive energy and attitudes from the staff and the process was painless. There were no assumptions made about my son verbally or non-verbally (something we were very used to reading). My son was included in the application process and his concerns were heard.
My son who rarely speaks, had something to say halfway through their informal presentation;
"Mom, I'm going here..."
Before BAA, when we spoke of school or anything remotely near the topic of learning, there was anger involved. With anger came stress, and lower self-esteem, which just led to more negativity.
Currently, my son has been enrolled at BAA for 6 months. We have not fought one time about school. There has been no tension or frustration. The information I have received from staff is how well my son is doing and what a great role model he is. I get notifications about the details of his progress, and can reach out if I have questions without any fear of added circus. My son has been given clear expectations and the tools to reach them. He talks to me about what he is learning without me dragging it out of him. His successes or frustrations with learning are no longer attached to who he is as a person. For example, he is not a bad student because he doesn't do well in X subject.
At the Acceleration Academies you are a person first. They care about the big picture of who you are. Once that foundation is established then they start chipping away at the walls you have built to guard against learning. My son always thought he wasn’t smart enough to learn certain things. Now he is plugging away on schedule, making excellent progress and knows he can safely ask for help.
There is no fear in having difficulty learning; that is the biggest difference so far.