Landon Voye stands on top of the playground slide, sweat beading on his forehead, knees slightly bent for a quick get-away, head turning every direction to watch for the tag. It’s recess at Renaissance School, and this third-grader plays hard.
He dashes down the slide as a classmate reaches for him — another successful dodge in a serious playground game of tag. The whistle blows, and it’s time to wind down and return to the classroom.
“What do I like about this school?” Landon repeats a visitor’s question. “We have to wear uniforms!”
“You like that?” he is asked.
“Yes! No one can make fun of us. At my last school, every single kid tried to make fun of every other kid about what they wore. Here, we don’t.”
When Landon’s mom, Kyla Wilcox-Voye, picked him up from first grade two years ago, she encountered quite a different child. His legs were scraped, his clothes were dirty and he certainly didn’t have a smile. That evening, Kyla learned that her child had been pushed around the playground during recess. Kids were making fun of the way he dressed.
Finally, she had a clue about why this first-grader’s attitude toward school declined so rapidly from loving to learn to hating the thought of another school day. Landon had weathered Kindergarten all right, but first and second grades in the public school he attended were “a disaster,” says his mom.
There was more to Landon’s struggles than bullying and scraped knees.
“I knew my son was struggling, and come conference time, I found out just how bad it was, and was really disturbed,” says his mom. “So naturally, I wanted to know what the next step was so I could help my child improve. The teacher’s response was that there were so many children in the class that there just wasn’t enough time to spend with the kids that need help, and there are other kids that were doing worse.”
“That response upset me, but it also saddened me,” says Kyla. “Why was I supposed to be OK knowing that my child was not doing well in school, but not doing poorly enough to require help? Why should any teacher be so overwhelmed that they have to pick and choose what kids are doing poorly enough to require his/her help. That did not sit well with me.”
Kyla knew she needed an alternative. Her mother had driven past Renaissance School, part of the LUMIN Schools network, and the “Free Tuition for 4K-8th” sign grabbed her attention. She told her daughter, and Kyla made an appointment to visit Renaissance.
“I was really impressed with their program and thought it would be a really good fit,” says Kyla. “I was wrong. It has not been a good fit-LUMIN Schools Renaissance has been a GREAT FIT.”
Kyla enrolled Landon and her younger son, Nolan, in Renaissance through the Racine Parental Choice Program.
“The classroom size is smaller, so if kids need help, they are able to get the help. He is not bullied anymore, and has an easier time making friends.”
Ask Landon, and he says he has a ton of them. His favorite class is Math, but he also likes the “Daily 5,” when he writes, does word work, reads in pairs and does some desk work.
“He is thriving and making big strides in areas that he was behind in, and has made such great improvement,” says Kyla. “If I didn’t have the choice to choose what school would meet my son’s needs the best, I am not confident that I would have had the same results.”
Landon’s younger brother Nolan, a first-grader, also has found a safe place at Renaissance. Like Landon, he is fond of Math and writing.
“My oldest son’s light to learn had been extinguished,” says Kyla. “Now, that light has been turned back on.”