My son Matthew is my only child, and his education is very important to me. This is why I am an advocate for school choice.
When it was time for Matthew to start elementary school, I wanted the best for him. I wanted him to go to a good school with caring teachers that would give him a strong foundation for his education.
At the time, our neighborhood school was failing students. I knew that I could not send my only child there.
I had a friend whose daughter attended Rocky Mountain Prep Creekside school, and my friend recommended Rocky Mountain Prep to me. The more I learned about Rocky Mountain Prep, the more I thought its schools would be the best fit for Matthew.
Luckily, Rocky Mountain Prep was opening its Fletcher campus in Aurora that year, and Matthew was able to start pre-kindergarten there.
The new school was wonderful and welcoming. The classes were small, and Matthew received a lot of care and attention.
As a parent, I wanted to know more about Matthew’s school and teachers, so I started volunteering at the Fletcher campus a few hours a week. Over time, I became more involved, and I even served on the board of directors as a parent representative. It was empowering to be included in conversations about Rocky Mountain Prep’s future. As a parent, I felt valued, and I felt like I had an important voice in Matthew’s education.
Throughout Rocky Mountain Prep, I saw teachers who really cared about the kids and their education. If they saw kids struggling, they helped.
When Matthew was in first grade, his teacher noticed he learned differently from his classmates. Matthew was tested, and we discovered he needed more support with reading. The school created an individualized education plan (IEP) for Matthew to help him succeed. Matthew’s teachers and his schools have cared so much for him, and they have helped him set goals that he can achieve.
When my family moved to Denver, I couldn’t keep sending Matthew to the Fletcher campus. Rocky Mountain Prep Creekside was my number one choice for Matthew’s new school.
I hadn’t used Denver’s school choice website or completed Denver’s school choice process before. I was happy to see it was easy and effective. The website could be translated into many languages, including Spanish, and it followed a simple step-by-step process. If families don’t have time to research schools, the district’s school choice website can help them find schools close to home that are a good fit for their kids.
I completed Denver’s school choice process quickly and we were lucky to get Matthew enrolled at Rocky Mountain Prep Creekside. Now at Creekside, Matthew is continuing to get the support he needs to succeed. His teachers are kind and caring, and throughout remote learning during the pandemic, the Rocky Mountain Prep network has been very good to its families. They have offered support in so many ways—from food assistance to access to resources. They care about their families and kids.
I believe Rocky Mountain Prep has provided the best education for Matthew. The leaders work hard to find the best teachers. They pay teachers a better salary than some other schools. The former chief executive officer of Rocky Mountain Prep once told me if teachers don’t have to worry about their pay or benefits, they can focus more on giving the best education to kids.
Many of my friends think I pay tuition for Matthew to go to a charter school. That isn’t true. All Denver charter schools are free public schools; there may be waitlists for some schools, but if there’s space, every child is welcome.
Soon, Matthew will go to middle school, and I want to find a school that can support him and continue to help him meet his goals. I am researching other charter schools to find the best fit for Matthew.
School choice gives me the opportunity to find the best school for Matthew. It gives every parent the ability to make the best decisions for their children’s education—and that’s the most important thing.
Anabell Hernández is a parent in Denver, Colorado.
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