By Miles Sandler and Amber Wilson
Kansas City Academy is a shining jewel in the heart of Waldo. And every student that finds themself attending the school has a different situation. The reasons families choose Kansas City Academy and the paths they take to get here are varied. But most are seeking a place of emotional and intellectual safety and freedom. Current parents talk about many qualities they love about KCA. Those qualities include a welcoming and inclusive environment, small class sizes with engaged teachers, and a place for students to grow and explore their identity without fear of judgment. Others mention a sense of community that exists among the parents. Parents are invited to participate in various school events, activities, and parent-specific sessions. These opportunities create connections that foster support among the parents. Students create their own community in different ways, but it includes holding each other up, having personal accountability, and participating in decision-making for the school.
We will share our different family's decision to attend KCA, the school's impact on our students, and our overall experience at the school.
Miles: KCA opened up new possibilities for my son. Before starting at KCA in 7th grade, my son was emotionally withdrawn and crushed that his basketball dreams were not working out. After many different educational settings, from public, Montessori, and homeschool, my son was becoming drained and frustrated by even the idea of school. And being a child on the spectrum, with ADHD, connecting to his school environments was challenging. I knew he was a wonderful, creative, and funny person but he wasn’t seeing in himself his full capability. But coming to KCA opened up a new part of my son’s existence. Through the openness and connection with the teachers, my son actually came home and shared what he learned at school. He embraced theatre and found his voice and confidence. And he discovered his innate talent in music.
I am not saying everything has been perfect. But the gift of KCA has been the permission it gave my child to find what made his heart beat a little faster and gave his life more joy. The deep centering of humanity that permeates the staff truly makes it a different place. And the permission teachers have to reach their students through experiential and tailored approaches makes it a haven of creativity. And I know my son is better for his time there. And so am I as a parent.
Amber: My student is currently in 8th grade and has been attending Kansas City Academy for three years now. I cannot imagine finding a better school for her. I was aware of KCA even before becoming a parent and was impressed with its mission, structure, and small size. I had always planned to enroll my child in KCA, but I never anticipated just how much it would benefit her once she reached 6th grade.
Some back story. In the 4th grade, my daughter had a very abusive teacher who felt that dyslexia and ADHD were a product of bad parenting. My child was set up to fail, shamed in front of the class daily, and punished for standing up for herself. I watched my once vibrant kid withdraw. She hated school, mistrusted her teacher, and had given up. When communication with the teacher and principal broke down we moved to a new school in the middle of the year. She had only been there a little over a month when everything went virtual because of COVID. She became even more withdrawn and disinterested in school.
When 6th grade finally arrived, I was happy that she would get a fresh start at KCA. However, she had trouble adjusting due to her unresolved distrust of her teachers and lack of student interactions during COVID. I know in any other school, she would have continued to struggle. But KCA gave her a safe and supportive environment to work through it. The school holds her accountable for her actions but rather than being punitive, she’s allowed to grow from the situation. She’s given opportunities to learn in ways that work for her learning style. Over the last three years, I have seen tremendous growth in my child. Although she has faced some challenges, she now loves school. The smaller class sizes, caring teachers and staff, and adaptable teaching methods have rekindled her curiosity and eagerness to learn. She feels safe and empowered and has formed strong relationships with her peers that would not have been possible in a more rigid educational setting. We look forward to the years to come with KCA.
It is important to note that every family’s experience is unique, which is one of the things that makes KCA truly special. Take a moment and talk with a KCA parent if the opportunity comes up, and ask them what they love about the school. If you're interested, attend an open house or just reach out to one of us. We are happy to share.