Education is Freedom For Me and My Family
By Abigayle Gomez, Christel House Academy South Parent
This story is part of our Celebrating Education Innovation series leading up to our fall fundraiser. These stories highlight the progress, innovation, and impact of Indianapolis charter schools over the past 20 years from the perspectives of parents, school leaders, and community partners.
My kids are in high school and grade school. I started them out at a traditional district school because the location was convenient. Their time there felt institutionalized. It wasn’t very warm, there wasn’t a lot of communication between teachers and parents. It felt like my older daughter in particular was just getting pushed along in the shuffle.
So we started looking at different schools. My sister-in-law sends her kids to Christel House Academy South and she told me, “We really love this school; we think you should enroll.” I trusted her opinion so we enrolled and got both of my daughters in.
Right off the bat Christel House worked to cultivate my daughters’ interests. They offered financial support for a ballet class that my daughter has loved and the approach felt personalized. The teachers worked quickly to address the educational gaps my daughter had without making her feel shame or embarrassment.
This last year, my second grader was struggling. My kids are bilingual and emerging bilingual students can be overlooked by our school systems. Yet Christel House teachers always approached her struggles from a place of support and the intention of finding solutions and an outcome that would leave my child feeling empowered.
They called me a lot and provided her with a lot of specialized attention. I feel like that doesn’t always happen unless your student has a certified disability or diagnosis and even then the support doesn’t always appear. Each child learns at different rates and my second grader’s teacher understood that. She kept her on track and individualized the classroom instruction to match her personality and what would work best for her. Her communication always made me feel like we were on the same team trying to help my daughter succeed.
When it comes to my older daughter who is a freshman this year, I’ve been impressed by their focus on college and career options. Even before she entered high school, they’ve had professionals from different careers coming in to talk to students and expose them to future opportunities and encourage them in their studies.
A Wealth of Extracurricular Opportunities
The extracurricular activities they connect my daughters to are also important. My youngest daughter started guitar lessons through school last year. We’re a musical family but I never really considered putting my kids in lessons. My husband and I work full time so it can be difficult to get our kids into extracurricular things outside of school. Christel House lets my daughter stay after school to get those experiences any kid deserves to have but that my daughter might not have been able to access at a previous school.
One of the extracurriculars my high schooler has loved is the connection Christel House has with Camptown. Students go camping multiple times during their academic career at Christel House, which culminates in a big camping trip at the end of eighth grade. She had a really great time and was able to disconnect from phones and technology and spend time with her teachers and classmates. Those experiences communicate to kids the importance of disconnecting and centering yourself.
Why Education Matters
Why does this all mean so much to me? Well, for me and my family, education is freedom. I come from a family where both of my parents were the first to graduate high school, let alone attend college. I myself dropped out of college early and didn’t finish my degree until I was older.
If we want better communities and strong neighborhoods, we have to put in the work for education. My husband is an immigrant from Mexico. He didn’t finish middle school. For him, this is a whole new world where his children have more opportunities than he did. They have choices and are exposed to so many opportunities that will ensure their lives are easier.
If we want better communities and strong neighborhoods, we have to put in the work for education.Abigayle Gomez, Christel House Academy South Parent
I am so proud of my daughters, especially my eldest. She has been resilient, shown grit, and taken her education into her own hands. I haven’t had to be one of those helicopter parents who is always on her. I can only say that because of the teachers she has had. She feels responsibility for her education. It’s become personal to her. I love that she has taken on her future. Her teachers and I get to guide her but she is the boss and I love it.
Education for me and my family is just freedom.