I am very happy that Dean Mooney asked me to share with you my thoughts about The Founders Academy from a parent’s perspective.
This is my oldest daughter’s first year here and she is in 6th grade. Prior to attending The Founders Academy, my daughter went to Mill Falls Montessori Charter School in Manchester. We really loved Mill Falls and found it to be a great fit for her, academically, socially and emotionally.
Making the decision to have her start at Founders in 6th grade, rather than finish up at MFCS was not an easy decision. We attended an Open House, just as you are all here tonight. We listened eagerly hoping to be assured that Founders would be the right choice for her.
I’m sure we can agree, one of the most important responsibilities for us as parents is providing our children with the best education possible. It was also important for us to find a school that provided opportunities for the students to grow in character, independence and self confidence.
I have to admit, that while we toured Founders that evening, I was faced with many feelings. I felt excited for the idea of it being a great school, nervous that “what if it wasn’t the right school for her?” as well as a thousand questions that my husband and I would rake through while creating lists of pros and cons about whether to start her in a new school, when she was already attending a school that we liked so much.
It’s important for me to share that I had been a middle school teacher for quite a while prior to having children. I also had recently gotten back into education, working in a middle school special ed department. With the experiences that I had as a teacher, one thing kept surfacing in conversations with my husband about whether our daughter should start in 6th grade or wait until 7th grade to apply. That was the fact that I knew how important 6th grade was to students when starting in a middle school. Sixth grade is transitional year for students to learn how to navigate through the new expectations, schedule and responsibilities of being a middle school student. I knew that as someone who taught 6th grade, it had certainly been part of my job to make sure my students were given the structure and supports that they needed to succeed and become more self sufficient. I kept coming back to the thought that I wouldn’t want her to miss out on that very important year.
Ultimately, it was my daughter that made the final decision to begin Founders for grade 6. I knew that she was ready by the time we were in the summer months. She was excited to begin the next step in her education. And despite it being bittersweet, our daughter growing up...her father and I were feeling eager to see what possibilities would present themselves to her.
So...that’s how we made our decision. A decision that I can say was absolutely the right one for our daughter. She definitely was ready for the added challenges of attending a school with high expectations and a rigorous course load. As I expected, it has certainly been a year of transitions thus far. Managing a heavy amount of homework, balancing schoolwork with extracurricular activities and providing strategies for her to be successful with time management.
I have watched her grow tremendously since starting the school year. She has learned how to advocate for herself through sending emails to her teachers, continuously manages the work for her classes and meeting new friends. She has enjoyed getting involved with the sewing club and attending school dances. She has even started helping out with running the school store. I love getting to hear all about what goes on in her classes and what she’s working on. It is so wonderful getting to watch her grow and to see her happy and engaged in her school experiences. She is shining at Founders and I couldn’t be happier!
~ Traci Strub
Honestly, as my son was successfully completing 5th grade, we never considered The Founders Academy as the right fit for us. I have been working in public schools for 15 years. I am a strong advocate for supporting our local public schools. He is a good student, an athlete, and gets along great with his peers. He will do fine at Southside and we still believe he would have.
He chose The Founders Academy. We toured both schools and reviewed all things to be considered for his 6th grade education. Having the opportunity to make this choice for himself has been the greatest gift. He chooses to work hard and take advantage of variety of learning that takes place at The Founders Academy (even chorus). He chooses to make learning a priority and enjoys the challenge of the curriculum. We believe that The Founders Academy has helped make Adam a strong student and community member because he learned how to educate himself on his school options to choose the best fit for him." - A current 6th grade parent
"Since our son entered Founders as a 7th grader this year, we have seen a momentous leap forward. In only five months, we have seen an improvement in his ability to craft good sentences, he has a more consistent grasp of foundational math concepts, and we have noticed a new found ability and desire to verbally express his ideas. We researched the Classical style thoroughly before choosing Founders so we knew there would great benefits to the cross subject integration, repetition, and class discussions. Nonetheless, the quickness with which his skills improved surprised us very much. We have been very happy with our choice to send our son to Founders and are very thankful to Founders' teachers and staff commitment to the Classical approach." - Parents of a 7th Grader.
My name is Lori Olsen, my son Garrett is in 9th grade and my daughter Sadie is in 6th grade. A couple of years ago, we sat where you are tonight, to learn more about this new charter school. We were certainly impressed by what we heard, and my son was truly excited about the possibility of attending. When I asked him why he felt this school would be a good fit for him he said “ It really seems like it’s more than just a school - it’s different, more like a community."
I can honestly say, that two years later, those words have certainly proven to be true. I am always impressed by the way the school, both teachers and students, all work together to make this school so much more than just a place to come and learn math, english, and history. It truly is a community-fostering mutual respect between the students and their families, teachers and administration. The bar is set high and the expectations are great. The teachers ask for and expect a lot from their students - but not without providing support and guidance every step of the way.
In the two years that we have been a part of the school, it has become clear that the passion the teachers possess is second to none. I will never forget when my son came home last year - over the moon excited because his history class was going to be re-enacting the battle of Lexington and Concord. The day came and he couldn’t wait to get to school and be a part of the re-enactment as the rest of the school was going to watch. At that moment, it became clear to me that he would be learning so much more than facts from a book, and required to do so much more than memorize facts for a test. Other events such as mock debates, reading and discussing classical literature in Hearkness roundtable discussions and participating in many engaging, hands-on science labs are just a few more examples of the “out of the box” methods the teachers utilize to make school a fun environment for the students to learn. My kids are excited to go to school, and when I pick them up at the end of the day they are enthusiastic about what they’ve done. I love the fact that many teachers will give homework in the form of “projects” as my son tends to be more of a creative person and that allows him to be able to use his creativity while he learns. My son is a part of drama club, and my daughter has joined the spirit club. They have been able to participate in a spelling bee and the talent show, and get to explore and learn more about the arts through both band and chorus. They’ve had opportunities to meet and hear state, local and national public figures speak. I can honestly say that their education here is well rounded.
As a parent, it is important to me that my children aspire to become the best they can be - the best possible versions of themselves. I truly believe that the values that The Founders Academy instills in them - to demonstrate exceptional character, to become leaders and productive citizens in their community, are wonderful building blocks for them as they grow and forge their own paths.
I will close by saying that my family is honored to be a part of The Founders Academy and we look forward to many more years here as it continues to grow.
We are so happy we chose Founders. We wanted to take this opportunity to share our sincere gratitude to The Founders Academy. Our daughter is a 7th grade student. Our transition to Founders has been remarkable and we can’t stop recommending that every parent who has a vested interest in their child’s future must consider Founders. We couldn’t be happier with our decision!
We love that you hire teachers who are passionate about what they teach, as opposed to what certificate they received in college. This single piece of information that we received at the information session nearly sealed the deal for us. To have teachers who are excited about what they teach is contagious. Our daughter has immersed herself in subjects that we thought were going to be a struggle.
Dean Mooney visits the lunch tables and asks how everyone is doing. This simple act of kindness is genuine and immeasurable. It means so much to the kids and parents alike.
We appreciate the teacher correspondence. It is a lot of work and absolutely remarkable how much time and effort is spent ensuring the students have everything they need to be successful. What more can a parent ask for?
What is most important to us when our daughter leaves Founders is that she leaves as a remarkable human being. Despite what grades and test scores she receives, we want so very much for her to be confident and kind and to know that she can do anything. We see that this core, that is significant in our belief system, is also built into the foundation at Founders. Thank you!
Thank you for allowing me to take the opportunity to commend the Founders' staff for truly caring for the heart and soul of the academy, the students. We feel you have partnered with us and are working with us by supporting their education and future.
We look forward to the future and all that The Founders Academy has to offer.
With sincere appreciation,
Sean & Mel Decowski
"I am so very thankful for the education and culture that is provided to my daughter at The Founders Academy. She had been there since its opening and has had opportunities that a traditional public school is unable to provide. She has flourished as she gets involved with various clubs and activities. The staff is competent, providing proper discipline along with quality instruction. I couldn't be more satisfied with The Founders Academy. Thanks for allowing us to have a choice that is a good fit for my child!" - Jennifer Girard
I love this school for my daughter. She has never been more happy at a school before. She has great grades, I have never seen them like this in a long time. She feels comfortable when she comes to school and she always comes back home with a smile on her face saying her day was amazing. She tells me how much she has been learning and she tells me whenever she gets stuck on something the teachers are always there for her. It shows how a well run and well managed charter school is much better than a poorly run public school. I'm very proud of her and I'm very happy with how far her education has grown since she left her other school. ~Patricia M. Tierney
"I can vividly recall the day that my husband came home and told me he had just heard about a great new charter school opening up in Londonderry. The deadline to apply was just one week away. At the time, I was happily homeschooling 3 kids! My husband shared how their focus was going to be on history, morals, debate and leadership- all things we were trying to accomplish at home. Although I do have to share, teaching history was not my calling. I know I leave myself a bit vulnerable here as a homeschooling mom but, I was terrible at teaching history and my kids knew it and in return, they hated history! Applying to this school was a huge gamble for us at the time. Not only did my kids want to remain homeschooled but the idea of going to a school that focused on history was just crazy! Surely we had lost our minds! In spite of pleas from our children otherwise, we applied to the school. To our surprise, both of our children were accepted. The school also changed plans and decided to establish in Manchester, which was even closer for us. We prepared for our first day of school, a little nervous, excited, skeptical and without knowing what would come of our decision, after all, this was still another public school. Now, looking back over the last 2 years at TFA, I realize what an amazing leap of faith we took that summer. TFA has been a wonderful experience for my kids. They have made great friendships both with their peers and with their teachers. I have seen their love for music grow and are amazed by the progress they have made in their band and chorus classes. Also, with Mrs. Henry's new "flipped classroom" approach, my daughter has seen great success in math, even though it is a subject that she has struggled with in the past. And most amazing of all is the enthusiasm and love both of my children now have for history! I hear my kids engaging in conversation with each other about the Revolutionary War and debating one another on their views on freedom and the Constitution. We've had great family conversations at the dinner table and we are quite impressed that we are having a fairly intelligent conversation with them and they really do understand what they are talking about. They have been incredibly enthusiastic about the election process and can tell you quite a bit about each candidates platform. Mr. Van Ewyk has done a fabulous job exposing our kids to history and does it in a way that catches their interest. They have had classroom debates, re-enactments, a mock election that was run completely by the kids. I cannot say enough good things about this school. The change I have seen in my children, the maturity they show in discussing historical topics, their leadership skills, their ability to work as a team on projects with their peers, and most importantly the confidence I now see in them, is priceless. These capture the essence of a good education, forming children who have the ability to think and act on their own and make informed decisions with enough confidence to stand their ground on their individual beliefs and having fun while they are doing this! Yes, The Founder's Academy is a public school, but not just another public school. They are different. They see your child. They want to teach your child. It is worth every effort you put forth to get your child to this school on a daily basis. Your child will be happy here, they will learn and they will love going to school every day, just like mine! Cindy Lacasse"
"I do not feel I can fully express my appreciation and gratitude to The Founders Academy. My daughter is in sixth grade and could not be happier at school. She was immediately welcomed and supported by both staff and students. The Founders Academy provides students with the very best educational opportunities and leadership skills. The curriculum is focused on providing the necessary tools for students to become successful and confident adults. The material covered is relevant and timeless and will fully prepare students for whatever they may face in the future, no matter what path they may choose. The Founders Academy is a true gift to the community." Gratefully, Christine Quigley
"Two years ago I was invited to a meeting about a new charter school that would be starting here in Manchester. When I attended the Information Night and learned about the hopes for Founders, my son quickly asked if we could try that for a year. I made it clear that we would be re-evaluating this choice regularly. After Year One, we again chose Founders. We have tried the city schools, and we have home-schooled. No method is perfect, no school is perfect either. I realize that my child's education does rely, in some part, on my own willingness to participate in his education. Staying on top of assignments by using the Portal may annoy my child, but it means there are really no surprises come report card time. Volunteering at the school may embarrass my son, but it gives me an insight into the quality of his teachers and they quality of the students that we ask theses teachers to work with every day. Donating my time and talents to help with the little things not only saves the school money that could be used for important projects, but it makes Founders more like an extension of our family than like the city school institutions where parents are kept at arms length. No school, no family, will ever be perfect. But I am pleased with at least 85% of what I have seen and learned at Founders. There will always be areas where we can reach higher and achieve more. I believe that we will - if we work together: students, families, and staff. The stronger we build our communities, the brighter our future. I believe in the mission of Founders. Most importantly, I believe in the students of Founders - the leaders of our future, the guardians of our liberty."