Jill Meisler is a parent and volunteer for . She shared a letter she sent to Cobb County School Board member Allison Bartlett asking her to vote to grant the school a charter at the board's June 28 meeting.
Dear Ms. Bartlett,
The day of the vote for or against the creation of the Smyrna Academy of Excellence is rapidly approaching. I wanted to let you hear from me one more time, with my personal story as to why I am so passionately supportive of the Smyrna Academy of Excellence. I am on the marketing development team for the school. Over the last 12 months I have, in addition to my job running a company of 70 people, volunteered countless hours toward helping to craft the mission of this school, to publicize its vision to the South Cobb Community, and to educate fellow parents in our community about what this school will bring to our corner of Cobb County. I have sacrificed too many already-scarce hours with my family, have lost much sleep, and have carved out an amazing amount of time that I didn’t know I could possibly find…just as have more than 80 other enthusiastic volunteers like me.
Why would I and the others do this? What is the motivation?
It’s simple. I love my community. I really love the Smyrna area, and I don’t want to move. But I will do whatever it takes to ensure that my children are in the educational setting that is appropriate for them. Not one that is designated for my neighborhood by geographical boundaries, but rather the school that best meets my children’s individual needs. I sent my children to the public school for which we are districted, with high hope that it would be a good fit for us. Around the beginning of her second year, my daughter began to dislike going to school. As early as first grade she would complain that the teacher was having to teach the same thing over and over and over, because a number of other kids in the class were just too disruptive, and it never got any better. She was bored. Conferences with the teacher and principal provided no support for our concerns, and we were frankly told “My daughter should learn to step back and let someone else win once in a while”.
Our once-enthusiastic learner became sullen and resentful of school, and after that year it became clear to us that this particular school was not going to be the best alternative for our child to flourish. So we moved her to private school. We evaluated a lot of options in that sector, sacrificed a lot financially, and finally found one that did seem to be a good fit for her. Not because it’s private, but because the policies, curriculum and school philosophy are a match for the environment in which she thrives.
There is no one-size-fits-all school solution. Many of our neighbors’ children are flourishing in our public Elementary school, and I say “Hooray” for them! Others are in various other arrangements, because they too felt that their children needed an alternative situation, and they could afford to make that happen. I don’t want any parent be limited to just two options: settle for a school that is chosen for you based on your house’s location, or pay upwards of $15,000 per year. There simply must be more alternatives, so that parents can examine all options and hopefully find that right fit for their own children. I believe deep in my heart that the Smyrna Academy of Excellence’s college-bound culture, the Learning Families, the year-round calendar, and the academic rigor are going to challenge my daughter and every student to be their very best.
A “no” vote for the Smyrna Academy of Excellence would be a vote against those parents who really want to seek out the most appropriate educational option for their children. Please don’t send that signal, and please do not lump SAE in with the other charter schools that have operated in the South Cobb area. We are community-governed, and there is a world of difference between a grassroots, community-fueled school, vs. one that is governed by a distant EMO. I know this first-hand, because I was very close to the development of both IAS and SAE. I felt the difference from the first day I became involved. SAE will be far, far different.
I am passionate, in case you hadn’t concluded that already. Please support the members of our community who have the drive, the passion, and most importantly the ability to support the Smyrna Academy of Excellence and play a role in bringing it to its greatest potential as a shining example of what public education can be.
Vote yes, Ms. Bartlett. Thank you very much.