It’s a bombshell no parent wants to find out as they wrap up maternity leave – you’re out of a job and left raising a child alone. It happened to Jakisho.
“When I tried to go back to work, she told me my job wasn’t available anymore,” Jakisho said, remembering the call from her boss.
Jakisho turned to the state’s W2 assistance program to help support her son, Alonzo. As part of the program, she had to look for work and it wasn’t easy.
“I was either getting letters saying no or emails saying no or they just wouldn’t call me back,” Jakisho said.
At the same time, Jakisho wanted early education for Alonzo. She was covering the basics at home, but sought more interaction for her only child.
An opportunity came one day while Jakisho was job hunting at a W2 center and came across a Next Door booth. While the agency couldn’t offer her a job, the encounter triggered a discovery that paid huge dividends for Alonzo’s education and helped ease the struggles facing his mom as a single parent.
“They were very open and welcoming, so I really loved that, always willing to help, so that was a blessing by me being a single mother, here by myself, first-time mom, first time sending my child off somewhere,” Jakisho said.
“Just grateful” for Next Door experience
Alonzo was three years old when he started at the Educare School of Milwaukee at Next Door. His mom said, early on, there were some rough patches. Alonzo’s behavior wasn’t always the best and he struggled a little following directions.
“As he got older and started maturing and started being with different teachers, he just caught on,” Jakisho said.
The academic growth came, too. In Alonzo’s three years at Next Door – two in Educare and one in the Charter School — there were annual milestones to report.
“K3, he was already saying ABC’s, doing his 1,2,3’s, K4 he was recognizing words, by K5 my son was reading,” Jakisho said.
“It just made me feel so great as a parent, like I really accomplished something, I really made the right decision by putting him in early childhood and I’m just grateful for that.”
Feeling stronger as a parent went beyond her son’s improvement at Next Door. Jakisho found herself surrounded by supportive teachers who helped this new mom navigate often daunting waters.
“They taught me a lot of things as well as a parent, as far as learning my child and learning how he learns, and even if he was stuck on little things, I would ask the teacher, well what do I need to do to help him learn?” Jakisho said.
Jakisho and Alonzo Today
Jakisho found further success in an employment program she enrolled in shortly after Alonzo began at Next Door.
The program provided her with “subbing” opportunities for secretary work in Milwaukee Public Schools. This fall, Jakisho started as a full-time secretary at Gilbert Stuart Elementary School.
Alonzo is doing well at his new school, too. He’s in 2nd grade at Milwaukee College Prep.
“His first year went very well,” his mother said. “He’s a very good reader, he reads everything, he knows how to sound out big words,” she added.
We asked Alonzo about first year and he said, “First year in first grade, it was cool.”
We also asked him about Next Door, and he hasn’t forgotten about his early start here.
“It was that this school is a nice school and that I had great memories when I came here,” Alonzo said.