Where did our journey begin?
It all began with homeschooling, which is an unusual start for a public school.
It is a story of transformation and reflection. I am Christine Kuglen, founder and director of Innovations Academy. I was a public school teacher who became a mother. Though the timing of my first son’s birth was planned so that I could continue to work, once he came into the world I knew that the best thing for him was to be with his mother. And though I didn’t know it at the time, the best thing for this child’s mother was to be with her son. So I unexpectedly became a stay-at-home mother. (Incidentally, this is the best decision I have ever made.)
I followed my instincts and my child’s communication and very much enjoyed those early years. I had three more children and continued to learn the value of attachment parenting. When he was approaching school age we fortunately lived in a nice neighborhood just two blocks from the neighborhood school. On the first day of Kindergarten I was reminded of something I had forgotten since leaving public education. The majority of school classrooms use behavior modification for classroom management. So, the first day of classes my son got to experience “the chart.” There was a happy face, a neutral face and a sad face on this chart. If you “were good” then your name would stay on the happy face. If you “were bad” then your name would get moved down to the neutral face and if this continued you would land on the sad face. I had forgotten how controlling and manipulative school classrooms could be. To make a long story short, I saw my son turn into a child who did not want to take risks for fear of making a mistake and getting moved down on the face chart. By October of that first year we decided to homeschool.
Fast forward many years, now the mother of four homeschooling children I found my middle school aged son asking for school. I knew it was developmentally appropriate and though it was not my first preference, I decided to help him look into it. Together we explored schools and discovered that education needed a real overhaul. One thing led to another and I embarked on the project of creating a new school.
With the addition of one of the most amazing educators that I know, Danielle Strachman, our team began our project by addressing the essential questions:
How can a school support its students and teachers to powerfully create their lives for success?
What are the essential elements necessary for enjoyable, high level learning?
We hope you can join us on this journey.