Why Guidepost Stood Out for This Parent
Why one Guidepost parent made the decision to move her daughters back to Guidepost Montessori
The Guidepost Team
Cassandra Grace is the mother of Jazlyn and Haven Grace, who are both students at Guidepost Montessori at Lake Norman in North Carolina. Cassandra recently spoke with us about her decision to move her kids from a charter school back to Guidepost and the positive changes she’s witnessed in both her children as a result of their Montessori education.
My kids didn’t start out in Montessori
I have two daughters. My eldest, Jazlyn, will be nine very soon. My younger daughter is Haven, and she’ll be turning seven soon. At school, they’re known as the Grace girls.
Prior to us joining Guidepost Montessori, Jazlyn was attending public school. She went there for kindergarten and for half of first grade. Haven was in preschool. Jazlyn ended up falling behind in reading. After some investigation, we realized it was because she needed glasses. So, we got a pair right away, and she was just about to get some further help from the public school when COVID hit. Everything went remote.
Virtual learning was difficult for all of us
Because of the stay-at-home mandate, we had to work and learn remotely. We did virtual learning with our daughters in the spring and quickly realized we didn't have the time or capacity to do it well. Everybody was out of sorts; My husband and I both work full-time — it was difficult.
That’s what led me to start researching other options over the summer. We did actually try virtual learning again with the public school that fall, but Jazlyn was struggling with reading. To add virtual learning on top of that was not helpful. She became quite frustrated. She threw some things – and she had never thrown anything, not even as a toddler. When she was finished being angry, she would sit still and start crying these slow, quiet, soft tears. There’s nothing more heartbreaking as a parent to see that.
I told my husband that we needed to change. I said, “We'll move if we need to. We’ll do whatever we need to do financially to make this work.”
We chanced upon Montessori when we were looking for in-person learning options
At the time, all the other private schools in our area were filled to capacity. That’s how we stumbled upon Guidepost Montessori Lake Norman. I didn't know much about Montessori education. I was like most other parents — I thought that it was just a preschool or a daycare. I began to discuss it with people I knew, people who had some experience with it. A good friend of mine, for example, completed a master's degree in Education with a focus on Montessori. We had a long conversation about it. And my sister-in-law, who is also a teacher, had heard wonderful things about Montessori. After these conversations and those genuine exchanges we had with the Guidepost Admissions Director, we decided to enroll Jazlyn.
My daughter’s reading skills soared
Jazlyn began at Guidepost in September 2020. Her trajectory of improvement with reading was almost at a 90% vertical. That’s how much of a difference it made! Two weeks later, we enrolled Haven at Guidepost based on how well her sister was doing.
Jazlyn and Haven loved their new school
My daughters loved it. With daughters, you know, they can get granular about every little thing: what shirt they're wearing to school, if their sock has a string in it, or how they're going to do their hair — and their willingness to get up and go to school each morning was a godsend for us.
I loved hearing about what they were learning. I recall one moment when Haven was talking about trinomial cubes — she was only five! And my husband and I were thinking, "What is a trinomial cube?
It was such a loving environment. The guides genuinely knew our daughters, they knew their personalities. It wasn't this curriculum dictated lockstep.
I ended up writing a social media post about how much of a positive impact it had on my family
I wrote something about my experience the first month into Montessori (when the Grace girls began in September 2020). I posted it on my social media. Here’s an extract:
“We have high hopes that this will win back their confidence, their hunger to learn and celebrate their caring for one another. They are already emerging in an environment better suited for their personalities. We're thrilled for this research method and approach. Jazlyn is joyful and so much fun again. She absolutely loves the critical thinking aspect of it. Haven was thriving with the freedom to develop self-control, and self-dependence, and willpower. And it encouraged her initiative, that the nurturing they're wanting to become somebody special.”
Despite all the positive changes, we did move our kids to another school — only to return to Guidepost
We decided to move them at the start of the year because cost is a big factor. We tried a reputable charter school that was difficult to get admission to, but it didn’t cost anything.
We were there for two weeks. My daughters despised it. This may not hold true for other children at charter schools, which are all unique in their offerings and benefits. But, I continued to feel that Jazlyn was not being seen. There were a lot of kids in the classroom, and I knew she would not get the support she needed.
Haven shared with us that she felt that the teachers did not speak with kindness, and both of my kids expressed concern that they weren’t getting help when asked. . It takes a lot for Jazlyn in particular to ask for guidance. So, when she’d ask for assistance with sounding out a word or with her reading, the teacher would tell her that she needed to try it first –– but Jazlyn had already tried it on her own. Why would she be asking for help had she not tried it first?
At the charter school and the public school, Jazlyn’s teachers would tell me that when it was time to read, my daughter would excuse herself and suddenly have to go to the bathroom. It got to the point where we became really concerned. I was thinking, “My child's behind in reading, and this is going to put her in serious jeopardy academically. This is going to be a nightmare, and I'm a failure as a parent."
After two weeks at the charter school, something had to give
We sat down with Haven and Jazlyn and said, “If we're going to go back [to Guidepost], we need to be appreciative and possess grateful hearts.”
Obviously, they agreed, so we made the choice to move them back to Guidepost. The difference was immediate. Whereas at the charter school it had been a bit of a struggle to get them excited, on the first day of being back at Guidepost, they were up on their own, dressed and ready to go from head to toe at 6 a.m.!
At Guidepost Montessori, there's a security that's provided. Especially with Jazlyn, she’s no longer asking to go to the bathroom to get away from doing work. She’s empowered to try, and she feels at ease. Whereas everywhere else, she was just trying to escape it. Jazlyn is still behind in reading, but we have no doubt that she will surpass her peers soon because of the rate of improvement that she's at.
I get emotional when I think about the shift I’ve seen in my children because of Guidepost
We’re no different than any other parent — above all else, we want our kids to be happy. It’s not like Jazlyn wasn’t being challenged in Montessori; She did experience discomfort working through things in Montessori. The difference is she developed the ability to push through that difficulty and struggle with the help of the Montessori method and her guides.
She now possesses an understanding of how she can handle difficult things, and she has a strapping sense that she will continue to find self-satisfaction in conquering difficult, challenging situations.
We see similar changes in Haven too — she’s emotionally stronger and more resilient. Their guide has expressed that they both choose work and put forth their very best efforts into it. Through the transformational work, they are constructing themselves. Guidepost has thrown us in an entirely new direction. It’s beautiful and it's worth the investment.
The staff are willing to have conversations with you
When I would email teachers at the public or the charter school, it could take three days before they would get back to me. With Guidepost, it’s not like that; It’s almost like I don’t even need to set a specific meeting, I can just go in (to the school and connect with staff). Oftentimes, they can take time for a three-to-five-minute conversation right there on the spot.
One thing I’ve noticed whenever I’m there in person is that the classroom environment is always at peace. If I have something to discuss with a guide or administrator for a moment, the students are independently working on their individual projects. There is a real sense of calm in the classroom.
I want to keep my kids at Guidepost for as long as possible
When we first started at Montessori, the Head of School at the time said, “They’re not going to want to leave when you pick them up.” I was thinking, “Yeah, right.” But she was right — literally, we couldn't get them to leave. My daughters have said it themselves. Guidepost Montessori is like their second home. It makes sense, the Montessori method, as stated by their guide that in their pursuits, it unknowingly creates a world where everyone can flourish. We look forward to more discovery, enthusiasm, mistakes, and successes!
*This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
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