Great New Start!

Great New Start!

When Darrian dropped her son off at Next Door, most days she couldn’t keep up.

She described Jace “charging down the hall to see his friends, to see his teachers, to tell them about everything he has been experiencing, to tell them what he has done on his weekend.”

As a parent, she reveled in her son’s excitement for school. She just hopes it continues as Jace moves on to a new school this fall.

“There will definitely be a lot of sadness leaving,” Darrian said.

A second family at Next Door

Jace was almost two years old when his mother started looking for an early learning experience for her child. As a former pre-school teacher, Darrian had some insight on where to look but wanted Jace “to be somewhere a little more challenging and a little more engaging.” She found that at Next Door’s Educare School.

“So when I came to Educare, the facility itself was amazing. And then being able to see (the children’s) artwork on the walls, being able to see the pictures of them doing things, being able to walk past the classrooms and seeing them engaged was very important to me,” Darrian said.

Jace spent two years in Educare, marking several social and developmental gains. Within a month after turning three, Jace could recite much of the alphabet. His mom also noticed teachers challenging him to establish good behavior and even be a leader. Over time, Next Door became a second family that Darrian said she could count on.

“I have teachers who look for him, if Jace doesn’t show up at school, Jace’s teachers are going to call me,” Darrian said.

Next Door helped mom succeed

Darrian quickly found herself benefitting from Next Door, too. She recalled how teachers supported her as a single mom, who was going back to school for a career change at the time.

“The teachers and staff have been very supportive, and just encouraging me, asking me how school’s going and making sure I’m doing everything I’m supposed to be doing,” Darrian said.

She eventually graduated from Alverno College with a degree in business management. Her goal is to own a business focused on community education – something Darrian says was inspired by Educare’s work in Milwaukee.

Turns out the school found some inspiration in Darrian as well. Next Door’s Board of Directors appointed her to join the board in April of 2016. She’s excited about the chance to bring a unique perspective.

I’ve been a teacher, I’ve been a parent, a single mother, I’ve had to deal with the disparities that other mothers have gone through,” Darrian said.

Jace’s Next Move

Today, Jace is four years old and attends Woodlands School in Milwaukee. The K4-8 building is a nationally-recognized public charter school operating in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Darrian says Jace has his letters “down,” is beginning to sound out words and even express interest in what they mean. She looks back at his time in Educare and feels he’s ready for this next chapter.

“My son is in a much better place academically because of Next Door,” Darrian said. “I have peace of mind in the fact that he’s going to be prepared.”