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Great Local Middle Schools Include Julian Charter’s San Diego Academy

Kim Jones: “While many people whom I respect and admire send their children to our La Mesa Spring Valley School District middle schools, we were surprised to find that it didn’t work for our kids.”

To the editor:

In a day when we continue to hear about shrinking state dollars and the effect on our local school systems, it’s great to know there are options for parents who are struggling with where to place their children for middle school. Julian Charter School’s San Diego Academy offers a unique approach to middle school. I believe it is one of La Mesa’s best kept secrets.

When it was time for our son to enter middle school, we sent him along to the local middle school connected to our elementary school, Lemon Avenue Elementary. His experience at Lemon Avenue had been stellar. And coming from the perspective that we should always support our local public school, we sent him off with high hopes. What we found, though, was that the local school was not a good fit for Zach.

While many people whom I respect and admire send their children to our La Mesa-Spring Valley School District middle schools, we were surprised to find that it didn’t work for our kids.

I’m the daughter of two public educators, so I did not take our decision to move him lightly. We did not want to send him to a private school, nor could we afford the cost. We still held strongly to the value that a public school setting with its inherent diversity was a great place for our son.

What we needed was a public school that met his needs. We found the San Diego Academy, a public school of choice offered through the Julian Charter School District.

Located close to our home in La Mesa, just off University Avenue and College Avenue, the San Diego Academy is tucked away, meeting on the campus of College Covenant Church.

A publicly funded charter school, the San Diego Academy offers a hybrid approach to schooling. Attending classes two days a week, middle schoolers receive their assignments during class time for their home days and then work independently at home to complete their work.

My first impression of Julian Charter School District was that it was strictly a home schooling model. Not true! While they do offer a full, accredited and highly respected home schooling program, I do not consider myself a “home school” kind of mom. What I found, though, was that the San Diego Academy offers a level of education and preparation unparalleled in my experience with other local schools.

I’ve watched my son through his three years at the San Diego Academy and now my daughter, who completed sixth grade there this year. Now my son is heading off to West Hills High School in the fall, and I believe he is more than well-prepared.

I’ve watched the teachers at the San Diego Academy and their personal approach to each child. I’ve seen the small class sizes (no more than 20 per class). I’ve witnessed the interactive learning and how the school embraces technology. I’ve seen the support of art in learning and the exposure to foreign languages and intramural sports.

I’ve marveled as my two kids learned to self-manage their time and accomplish academic standards far beyond what I imagined. In three years, I have never seen a discipline problem or heard a story of bullying or “mean girls.”

Of course, no school is perfect, but this school has been a safe place for my kids to learn and grow and excel. They feel known and cared about and, most of all, their academic progress and emotional growth are healthy and, I believe, ahead of schedule. I feel so grateful to have discovered such an incredible place for my children to learn.

My message to other parents is: Don’t accept that middle school has to be a negative time for your child. It can be a positive, uplifting time to prepare them for their next steps. At the San Diego Academy, they have a better shot at this than our other local schools.

For more information about the San Diego Academy, see their website at www.juliancharterschool.org/sda

Kim Jones, La Mesa

Kim Jones August 23, 2011 at 05:12 AM
As the author of this letter to the editor, I'd like to clarify my last line that kids have a "better shot". I don't profess to know the answer for every child, nor do I mean to disparage La Mesa schools...only to offer up an alternative that has worked well for us and that is not well known. I think I could have said it better: "may have a better shot."

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