Two Kids, Two Schools :: Navigating East Baton Rouge Schools

My kids are 6 years apart. As I was searching for a school or my first born, we were overwhelmed with our options. In my opinion, I needed a road map to decipher EBR’s schools – we have public, private, charter, magnet, gifted, and immersion; I am sure I am missing options. I just wanted to scream I JUST WANT A GOOD SCHOOL FOR MY KID various times throughout the process.

We ended up sending Micah to South Blvd. Elementary (now Baton Rouge Foreign Language Academic Magnet) for preschool in 2009. We LOVED it. Micah was learning and growing daily. There was diversity, quality teachers and my child was learning a second language. Thankfully, Micah got into Kindergarten there and finished through 5th grade. Micah continued and tested into Gifted and continues his schooling in the gifted and immersion programs at Westdale Middle School. 

When Micah was going into 5th grade, it was time to do the same thing for Keilyn (or so I thought). Keilyn went to BRFLAIM for Pre-K. Unfortunately, she did not have the same experience. Keilyn was struggling, letter recognition did not come naturally for her, and soon we realized she was falling behind. I simply said “she is only in Pre-K, she will catch up!” I still had my mind set that Keilyn would be accepted into BRFLAIM for Kindergarten. At her end of the year conference, when her Pre-K teacher asked us what our plan was for Kindergarten if Keilyn didn’t get in, I immediately started to cry. Why was I crying? Well because I am an overly emotional mama who just wants the VERY best for all her babies, and BRFLAIM is what we knew!

Fast forward a little, Keilyn did not pass the entrance exam to BR FLAIM. Then I started doing research.

For Kindergarten, Keilyn went to Baton Rouge Charter Academy. Overall, we had a positive experience; however, the school closed at the end of the year so we were back to the drawing board!

I remember thinking over and over that school choices should not be this overwhelming! Keilyn went to 1st grade at our neighborhood school, however, 9 weeks in when we went to our conference, we were told that she was failing Reading & English. Keilyn would come home, and when I would ask her how her day was, she would respond “Ok, but everyone thinks I am stupid.” My heart was BREAKING!

After that conference, I did what any good mama would do – I googled.

Soon, I started reading more and more about Dyslexia. Dyslexia is defined as an unexpected difficulty in reading for an individual who has the intelligence to be a much better reader and due to difficulty in getting to the individual sounds of spoken language, which affects the ability of an individual to speak, read, spell, and often learn a language.

Once I was more confident that Keilyn’s struggles were not just “normal pre-k/kindergarten issues,” I started doing my research again. There, I came across Louisiana Key Academy which is a charter school located in Baton Rouge whose mission is “to serve the community at large to educate and remediate children with dyslexia in an evidenced based curriculum and to stand as an excellent model and resource for other schools and communities.”

After doing my research, I decided to send Keilyn through the testing process at Louisiana Key Academy. Shortly, Keilyn had an arranged time for a screening. The night after her screening, I asked her how her day was and she said “Can I go to that new fun school? Everyone was just so nice!”

We quickly found out that according to the screening, Keilyn was indeed Dyslexic. A week later, in mid-October, Keilyn started as a 1st grader at Louisiana Key Academy.

We have made it through our first year. Keilyn is reading – ACTUALLY reading! I cried happy tears listening to her. Keilyn has confidence in herself as she can read and recognize most of her letters and she is writing in cursive. Louisiana Key Academy has taught her how to code words so that her brain understands exactly what is happening.

Louisiana Key Academy plans to expand through 8th grade – teaching and preparing our kids to function in the “real world” for high school. I for one am thankful we have 7 more school years at Louisiana Key Academy, I think we are all in love.

My lesson in all of this is listen to your gut, fight for your kids and research your options for education.

If you child is struggling in English or Reading, reach out. Ask friends and family or call Louisiana Key Academy and ask them questions. We have a golden resource here in Baton Rouge to take advantage of!

Overall, I am thankful that both of my kids ended up in the schools that are best for them! Know you are not alone in the difficult decision process – we are all in this together!

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