We are proud to share this guest post by Megan Garcia, mother of a student at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School, offering her parent perspective about the well-rounded education her children are receiving.
Hello! We are the Garcia family: Megan, Gilbert, and our son, Nolan, who is eight years old. He keeps us busy with all his activities and his endless energy. He is a second grader at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School and has been a part of the school and their childcare services since he was one year old.
Choosing Shepherd of the Hills
We found our way to Shepherd of the Hills by following some friends we met at a prior daycare center. After our initial meeting we had no doubt that this is where we wanted to be. We had such a positive experience with the childcare at Shepard of the Hills, it was an easy decision to keep Nolan there for grade school, despite having a neighborhood elementary school right down the street from us.
There are many things we love about Shepherd of the Hills. From the very beginning there was a sense of belonging; it truly feels like a family. As parents we want the very best for our children in all things, and you quickly learn that the teachers and staff at Shepherd of the Hills share that desire. I love the commitment to teaching the children about the Lord, the confidence they gain in themselves, the desire to be kind and compassionate, and—as our son says—to help make the world a better place.
Fulfilling the Mission
Reflecting on the school’s mission to be “a community of parents, students and staff working together to provide a safe, nurturing, healthy learning environment, designed to meet the diversified learning needs of each individual child,” I feel Shepherd of the Hills lives this mission to the fullest. With each passing year, I am more impressed with the ways I see the school fulfills the mission. I feel comfort when he is at school, as I know he is walking into a building full of teachers and staff who are there because they love the students and their role in helping the grow and learn.
One of the things we love most about the school is the Christian environment and the way the school helps the children grow in their faith. Because of this help, Nolan made the decision for himself to be baptized. This was something he was able to do in front of many of his fellow classmates. The teachers and staff do an outstanding job of supporting the different study methods of their students, and we have experienced the support they give when working with outside parties to help foster the learning needs of student.
I also appreciate the school’s extracurricular activities. Our son has had the opportunity to play soccer, basketball, and baseball, which he loves to do with his friends. He is also a member of the LEGO and STEM clubs. I love club days because it’s amazing to hear him discuss what they did and the lesson they learned associated with the fun.
Creativity in the Classroom
The teaching and leadership at Shepherd of the Hills shows flexibility and innovation, as we saw early on. When Nolan was in pre-K, his teacher would rotate activities throughout the day to ensure she kept the students engaged. The children also would rotate daily roles, such as line leader, door holder, or light monitor, which allows them to learn to be team players, learn responsibility, and take pride in what they do.
With each grade level, I have seen ways the teachers foster learning that encourages the children to be creative. I only wish my book reports were as fun as Nolan’s have been! In his lower classes they got to watch caterpillars turn into butterflies and release them outside. They also got to watch little chicks hatch out of eggs. In first and second grade, the students participate in a Wax Museum project where each students picks an individual who has made a difference in the world. They do a report on this person, and then they get to dress up like them and all the staff and students come to see them as they tell the story of their selected person. Each teacher we have had, has always been willing to communicate and discuss any questions we have had regarding his learning and how we can both support him.
The school has many great traditions and events for the kids and families. Every year there is a back-to-school service and then we get to meet the teacher. The first Friday of every month there is a pep rally. Families are invited to attend weekly chapel sessions. At Christmas there is a Jingle Jog, and during Fiesta there is a parade. There is a yearly festival called Ram-Fest and recurring family movie nights. There are so many other fun events that while they may seem small gestures, they create wonderful lasting memories.
Finding the Right School
Advice I would give when looking for a new school for your children is to not settle till you find the right one. Talk to friends who take their kids to the school; if you don’t know anyone who attends the school, see if they have any parents you can speak to. Go visit the school, take the tour, and look in on a class your child will be in. Ask all the questions you have on your mind—even the tough ones. These strategies helped me make the right decision for our family. I am grateful to be able to send our child to the school or our choice. This is not only important to the parents and families but also to the teachers and staff, and you should be able to teach somewhere that makes you happy and fulfilled.
Charter Moms Chats
Megan Garcia is the mother of Nolan, who is eight years old and attends second grade at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School.
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