An Open Letter to Prenda: One Guide's Transformative Year of Nurturing Growth and Inspiring Lifelong Learning

Updated on:
Published on:
 minute read

It’s been almost a year since I interviewed and started my journey as a Prenda guide. I have had an extraordinary year as a guide and am grateful for my mentor, my community, and the entire support team at Prenda. Without their diligence and patience, I would have been lost in this new venture.

I started with all kinds of plans and ideas back in August and some of these plans are still in place, while others have shifted to better meet the needs of the kids. ESA flexibility has also been a very positive experience for all of us this spring. All my current students have switched to ESA enrollment!

This allows us greater flexibility to utilize individual learning styles.

Last fall was a challenge with some students not exactly aligned with the school vision, so enrollment got a little bumpy. But we settled in with a small core by November. Then the computers got hacked! So, for a few weeks, we were off of the computers and learning with pencil and paper. Phew, that was tough with students in K – 8! But the parents were patient, and the kids were flexible, and we all got through it. After the December break I was approved for two schools and we split into a morning session and an afternoon session. The kids missed each other, so we scheduled combined class field trips and occasions together and they have had happy reunions.

The school’s name changed from “Coati Academy” to “Calico Academy” this year when I was adopted by a pretty little calico cat who now resides in the school level of my home. She has become an important part of the school, greeting the kids, sleeping on laps, coming for treats… The kids love her. We have an ongoing adventure which is the product of the students’ imagination and intelligence. They now call my home “Calico Nation” and we are learning some very interesting things as we discuss government positions, statehoods (their homes), and laws. This is an evolving fun project, kid initiated, that we will continue next year.

We have a structured day with plenty of connect time interspersed between other classes. Our conquer classes (one for ELA and the other for math) are spent on computers, in workbooks, and in tutoring sessions. During this time, I am helping each student individually and letting more advanced students help the youngers. This is always exciting for me to see because confidence and camaraderie soar during those times. We have creative and collaborative adventures during our hour of social studies alternating with science. We all love Generation Genius for science and have a blast with the experiments. Social studies this year has been cultural studies ranging from Ancient Mesopotamia to Europe during the World Wars. The kids love the projects, the end of unit parties, and the field trips. I think Social Studies time has become my favorite part of the day.

I have added a couple more “C” classes to our day now. We have “Communicate” class where they learn spelling words, writing skills, and grammar together with the use of personal white boards. I also added “Calculate” where they are quizzed together on multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction, as well as word problems. I love watching them excel and I think I will have to up the challenges for next year! On Thursdays we have a quiz which earns them “Calico Cash” with correct answers. We have a cultural shopping bazaar scheduled in social studies units where they can use these rewards. We are learning about money matters with these new additions to our schedule.

I am always looking for ways to impart knowledge in a way that the kids respond to, and it is an adventure in learning for me as I get to know these individuals who all have unique gifts (and challenges) in learning. One of the most exciting things that I have seen this year is the monumental progress of each student. The philosophy of Prenda aligns so well with mine regarding learning, and the success of my kids proves that this is a style of learning that changes lives.

I have one student who started in an upper grade but tested early in the year at a much lower grade level. There was a lot of catching up to do, but with the student’s hard work, the family’s support, and Prenda’s flexibility for learning platforms, this student is now finishing up 4 grade levels in one year!

Another upper grade student started mid-year with me and took off like a rocket, finishing Lexia Power up and CTC middle school. My upper level students like the alternative learning option so much that they will be homeschooling high school, and my daughter and I will be tutoring them.

In my morning class I have a kindergartener who has stolen everyone’s heart. This kinder reached 1st grade level in February, and now can comprehend multiplication and division! Next year he will receive some tutoring by one of my current 4th graders who found a passion for teaching this year. We are all excited about this opportunity! This 4th grader also has passed through multiple grade levels – and met a new friend in the most recent addition to the class, another 4th grade girl who has been a very special addition to the classroom.

Last week I heard an afternoon student say. “I actually like math now.” This came from a student who has challenges with ADHD and focus. He came from a place in public school where he was labeled, overlooked, and defeated. With all Prenda’s flexibility, I have been able to reach him academically and he is now writing paragraphs, spelling correctly, flying though concepts in math… and best of all - he is engaged and excited to be in school! His confidence is growing, and he is starting to see his talents and successes for the first time (this I hear from his parents).

Another student in my afternoon class calls his new friend his “brother from another mother” and they make a funny duo. Connect time is always hilarious with those two. This student has a very high IQ but suffered a bit in private school for a variety of reasons. He is so happy here that he said to me this week, “Do you know what I’m thinking when school is over? I am thinking that I don’t want to leave. It’s too much fun.” I agree with him. This is too much fun!

I cannot think of a more rewarding job than this. Filling gaps in learning (this year a cumulative growth of 31 grade levels between 7 students), watching confidence grow, seeing kids feel safe and comfortable in school… this is a privilege, and I am very eager for enrollment for next year, to add to the great kids that I have currently. A year ago, I was told that I should use my own passions and experience while in the classroom. So next year, using my world travel experience, I plan to take young learners “around the world”. They will learn about cultures, and history, and scientific discoveries on 7 continents. Their play passports will fill with stamps and their minds will fill with excitement and questions about the world around them. They will write brochures about foreign places, and calculate travel budgets, shop at our classroom bazaar, and read about customs and cultures that once seemed beyond comprehension… we are going to have so much fun!

I am so happy to be a part of the successful education journey that these kids are on!

Looking for Parenting Tips? 

Sign up for our weekly newsletter by filling out the form below: 

<script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript" src="//"></script>



   region: "na1",

   portalId: "20832251",

   formId: "7f4fdd2f-31d5-45af-b87e-d13b7f127a97"



Don't forget to share this post!