More than a year ago, our family set out on a search to find a school that would educate our children—Madeline, age six, and Charlotte, age four—not only in the traditional context, but in a way that would cater to their whole being. We wanted a school with strong community ties and an influential science backing, as well as a place our children could be themselves. Our goal with our children’s education has never been to create a student that remembers answers but to build an adult who possesses core skills that allow for systematic thought.
How did it turn out? Madeline is in kindergarten at Promesa Academy this year, and Charlotte will be attending Pre-K 4 SA in the fall. We learned a lot during our school search, and hope to share that knowledge with you, as well as an appreciation of the importance of school choice for San Antonio families.
Our Family’s School Search
I began researching schools in San Antonio when Madeline was three years old. We knew that we wanted to send our children to pre-K because we believe that a strong early childhood education sets children up for success in and out of the classroom. Once we found Pre-K 4 SA and learned of its background and the pillars on which the program was built on—and that it only serves four year olds—we knew we would have to choose two different schools for our kids. We started our search with charter districts that served grades K–12. After a few months, we opened our search to districts serving grades K–5 and K–8.
Madeline is extremely strong willed and sometimes struggles with handling her emotions. This knowledge guided us in directions that led us to schools with whole child education and conscious discipline. We understood that our child needed all the benefits that these styles of classroom management would bring. Initially, we did investigate homeschooling. However, we learned extremely fast that my daughter sees me as her love and care giver and refused to see me as a true educational support member, so we re-channeled our efforts. We did not investigate private schooling as an option, based on our experiences with private education in our own past.
We live in North East ISD but opted out of the traditional public school system because we wanted to feel as if our child was more than a number and a test score. Being on the northeast side has had an impact on our choices. In our part of town, we have a few schools from the larger charter districts, like IDEA Public Schools, BASIS Charter Schools, Great Hearts, and SST, to name a few. However, most of the larger charter districts did not meet the criteria we as a family unit had set. Once we researched the schools in our area, we expanded our search to include downtown and the Medical Center area.
Focusing on the Right School
For our search, we utilized the San Antonio Charter Moms app and private Facebook group. With these two tools, we had recommendations and reviews from parents in our own city, placed in our laps. We were allowed access to a behind the scenes view of almost every school in our area. Without the Facebook group, we would not have met Ambika Dani, the amazing CEO of Promesa Academy.
We were fortunate enough to have started our search well before the pandemic hit in March 2020. We were able to tour facilities and meet with top educators from many different charter schools in the San Antonio area, as well as attending School Discovery events organized by the San Antonio Charter Mom team. By the time the pandemic had placed our city into the never-ending spring break, we had been accepted into all three of our top choice schools. However, we quickly knew we would be sending our children to Promesa Academy: the school had not opened their doors to students of their own, but they already supported the students of San Antonio.
We found Promesa Academy after an extremely emotional day. I asked in the Charter Moms Facebook group if there was a school in the area that used a HighScope Curriculum for kindergarten. (I have since learned that HighScope is just for early childhood education, but the group is a no-judgement zone, where it’s safe to ask questions.) Promesa Academy’s CEO Ambika Dani contacted me that evening. We spoke for a while about my views on what I wanted for my family. The next day Ms. Dani and her team member, Mary Hoekje-González, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, met with me in person to talk about the pillars Promesa is built on and the direction the school would be headed. The founding staff of Promesa Academy has held our hand as we transitioned into uncharted territory.
Starting School During a Pandemic
I was worried at first that our kindergarten year would be full of disconnect. However, with Promesa Academy, we have been granted a full school culture. Since starting school in the fall, we have started a Family Advisory Council. During the winter holidays, our council co-lead, Lillia, along with Mrs. Bathgate, who is both a staff member and a parent, headed our first ever Promesa Tree. We did not want any student’s families to go without over the holiday season. We have been loved and our students feel special.
Madeline has special bonds with her teachers, that I cannot wait to see blossom in person. We love that Promesa holds their staff in such high regard. I have met every member of the teaching staff and feel like I could not have handpicked better educational supports for my children. I adore everyone. Our family appreciates that Promesa utilizes subject experts. When your students can see how much a teacher loves their job, they will love doing theirs alongside their teachers
I know my child is in the correct learning environment—she cannot wait to log on to her classes. She asks about her teachers; she loves her school family. I remember Ms. Mitchell, Madeline’s ELAR instructor, called a few weeks into this school year. When I answered, I expected to hear, “Mrs. Adams, we need to talk about Madeline’s behavior over the last hour or so.” Instead, I was met with “Mrs. Adams, I’d like to speak with Maddie, I believe I have upset her, and I need to apologize.” I love that my daughter is treated as a human being that just happens to be young. Promesa has helped Madeline navigate what could very well be one of the most defining times in her life. I wholeheartedly believe that my child’s life has been changed for the better.
Tips for Your School Search
Finding the right school is a team effort. Our friend and family group here has a truly diverse educational culture. We have a homeschool family and a Brooks Collegiate family in our group. My friends were always so supportive of my rants and raves while finding our school home.
Always keep in mind: You know your child; you know what they need.
When looking for schools for your family, remember yourself as well. Are you a parent who wants to be involved? Does your family need after school care? Have a list of what you expect from your child’s educational support. Utilize all resources you can get your hands on. Speak with families, staff members, anyone who has a connection to that institution.
Ask all the questions!
You do not have to settle when it comes to your child’s education. Choosing a school is nerve wrecking and tiresome, but our children deserve the best we as parents and a community can provide. Remember, we get to help choose our children’s destination.
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.”—Malcolm X (June 28, 1964)
Charter Moms Chats
Watch Stephanie Adams share her parent perspective with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats on May 5, 2021 at 4:00 PM Central live on Facebook and YouTube.
Stephanie Adams is the mother of two young daughters, six-year-old Madeline and four-year-old Charlotte. She and her husband, Chris, have resided in San Antonio for the past eight years with their two pugs. Stephanie is the sole owner of Hello Sweetie—Gluten Free Sweet Treats, a specialty bakery. She is a Promesa Academy Founding Family member.
Read More About School Search
- “Masked up and Zoomed in: Sights and sounds of a virtual first week of school,” Emily Donaldson and Jackie Wang, San Antonio Report, August 19, 2020
- “Discover Math All Around Us,” Ambika Dani, San Antonio Charter Moms, June 10, 2020
- “Searching for Charter Schools in San Antonio: What You Can Do in January,” San Antonio Charter Moms, January 17, 2019
- “Finding the Right Schools in San Antonio for Your Children – MOMS Club of San Antonio NE Edition,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, April 9, 2018
- “An Introduction to Promesa Academy at the First Information Meeting,” San Antonio Charter Moms, November 9, 2017