Recently, we announced the “I Love My School!” essay contest, and we were so excited to see how many responded!
In celebration of National School Choice Week we will reveal one of the winners from the contest each day this week. Check back every day to see if your “I Love My School!” essay was chosen as one of our winners.
Suzanne Rivera is our winner! She sent in a parent essay to tell us why Grand River Academy is a good fit for her son. Read Suzanne’s essay below.
When our children were small, we did not think much about school choice. They attended our local neighborhood public schools and we assumed they would continue to do so through high school.
As our son approached junior high, he began to struggle academically and his behavior changed. He became rebellious and stopped caring about school. Our relationship with him deteriorated. We tried counseling and other supportive interventions but things just got worse. It was painful and frightening to watch our child, who previously had been a straight-A student with a happy disposition, become withdrawn, angry, and apathetic about his own future.
We moved him to a private day school for ninth grade, but the problems escalated. In addition to getting poor grades, our son began taking the kinds of risks that made us fear for his safety. We knew he needed a big change.
Fortunately, we learned about the Grand River Academy (GRA) in Austinburg, Ohio. This unique all boys boarding school, tucked away in rural Ashtabula County, was a life saver for our son and for us.
The school houses only about 100 boys from all over the country and the world. Every student has a story to tell about the road that led him to GRA. Many have attention deficits that made it hard to concentrate in a traditional classroom setting. Others had chemical dependencies or disciplinary issues. Some were struggling socially and just needed a more nurturing environment.
Regardless of why they come to GRA, all the students there benefit from its unusual mix of structure, consistency, logical consequences, opportunities to experience success, and an abundance of positive reinforcement for constructive decisions. Boarding allows the school to reinforce its expectations around the clock in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the dining hall, and in the dorms. Most teachers live on campus with the boys, creating a family atmosphere away from home.
In short, GRA really helped turn our son around. He entered with a terrible attitude and little interest in college. After 3 years, he has been captain of the soccer team, has written award winning articles for the local newspaper, and recently was elected student body president. To our delight, he has dramatically improved his grades and did well enough on the SAT to be courted by numerous colleges. As I write this, we await news on 2 of his “early action” college applications.
School choice is important because all kids are different. A one size fits all approach may be fine for some, but once we realized our son needed a change of environment, we knew the greatest gift we could give him would be a high school that could get him back on track to a bright future. The decision was not easy, but we are so fortunate to have had the option.
Some people might read this and think, “I could never send my kid away.” At one time, we thought so, too. Although we worried we would lose our son by sending him to boarding school, nothing could be further from the truth. Our son was lost before. GRA helped him to rediscover the person he always was capable of becoming. The school returned our son to us and for that we will be eternally grateful.