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For teachers and for students, one size doesn’t fit all

As the number of school choice alternatives grows, we should expect to see more instructors take advantage of these programs to open their own schools.

Dr. Angela Kennedy knew she could do more for children. A public school teacher and academic coach for 14 years, she was frustrated by the limitations the system put on her ability to reach kids in creative ways. So she took things into her own hands and started a private school called Deeper Root Academy

Dr. Kennedy witnessed too many students whose needs were not being fulfilled in the public school system while teaching. Gifted students were frequently ignored and under-challenged. Students who were having difficulty were not given enough time or varied approaches to demonstrate their improvement. Teachers who would have been able to come up with innovative ways to aid these youngsters lacked the freedom and flexibility to do so.

Not surprisingly, Deeper Root Academy takes a unique approach—using an educational focus based on Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligence. According to this theory, people think and learn differently, so presenting materials in multiple ways can help enhance learning.

Deeper Root Academy students
Teachers at Deeper Root Academy can assess pupils in a variety of ways. This allows them to be more flexible in their classes in order to accommodate the requirements of individual pupils. And they're always analyzing their classes and assignments, asking "what is the purpose?" to make sure they're not giving the kids too much work.

The Christian component of Deeper Root Academy is also present. While the curriculum is not religious, students are required to take a Bible subject and attend chapel once a week. "Teach our students to accept their God-given gifts and talents in order to deepen their knowledge of how they may effectively affect our world," according to the school's purpose.

Without Florida’s school choice programs, Deeper Root Academy wouldn’t be where it is today. It might still exist, but only wealthier families would be able to afford it. And that wouldn’t line up with Dr. Kennedy’s vision—she wanted to be able to reach the children who really need her help.

Students in uniform Deeper Root Academy
Dr. Kennedy maintains the school intentionally small, with 81 students in preschool through eighth grade, to ensure excellent quality and manageability.

Scholarships are awarded to about 62 percent of students; while this is a huge help, it does not pay all of their expenses. To make up the deficit, the school relies on donations and grants.

In education circles, the term "one size does not fit all" is frequently used to describe why students require more alternatives. However, Deeper Root Academy demonstrates that this statement also applies to instructors. Dr. Kennedy was able to escape the limits and disappointments she had as a public school teacher by starting her own school. Many of her instructors come from the public school system and are grateful for their newfound freedom.

As the number of school choice alternatives grows, we should expect to see more instructors take advantage of these programs to open their own schools. And that’s good news for teachers and for students.

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