By Esperanza Rodriguez
My son Ezikel (“Zeke”) had a very difficult time in elementary school. He has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and his behavior could be challenging.
When it was time to send Zeke to middle school, he could not attend the school across the street from our house because it was a dual-language school, and Zeke is not proficient in Spanish. I was very frustrated because there is no other school within walking distance of our house.
I researched other middle schools in my area and I came across STRIVE Prep Sunnyside. I didn’t know much about it, but it seemed like one of the only choices close to my house.
When Zeke started school at STRIVE Prep Sunnyside, I started to get phone calls about his behavior. But this time was different.
STRIVE Prep Sunnyside created a special plan to help Zeke succeed. Despite the plan, Zeke still got in trouble at school, and the phone calls kept coming. I was surprised because the school never recommended suspension. Instead, they recommended more parent-teacher meetings, opportunities to shadow Zeke, one-on-one time with teachers, or more frequent breaks during lessons.
The school and its teachers and staff always wanted to find the root of Zeke’s behavior and help him. This was very different from Zeke’s other experiences in school. I had become used to calls about Zeke’s behavior and to my son being treated like a “bad kid.” But at STRIVE Prep Sunnyside, they loved Zeke. They said only positive things about him. They told me how funny and smart he is. When he was struggling at home, the school arranged Savio House in-home counseling for us.
STRIVE Prep Sunnyside has changed how I think about discipline. I think about consequences differently, and I don’t take away sports or other activities when Zeke is acting out. My parenting style is different because of the support we have received from STRIVE Prep Sunnyside.
Without STRIVE Prep Sunnyside, I believe Zeke would think about dropping out of school. But, because of his personal relationships with the teachers, staff and students there, and because of his love for the school, he is succeeding. He’s excited to attend school. He wakes up eager to go to school, and he comes home talking about Mr. S, Ms. Coco, and Ms. Romo—just a few of the teachers and staff who have supported him.
STRIVE Prep has created a special bond with Zeke the last three years, and it will be hard to find a high school that supports him the same way. STRIVE Prep Sunnyside cannot be replaced but I hope to use SchoolChoice to find a high school that truly understands my son’s mental, emotional, social and academic needs—just like STRIVE Prep did.