By Raffael Slaughter Sr., Destiny Middle School Parent
I’m a born and bred resident of Tacoma. I’ve seen a lot of changes in my community over the years. Some bad, like drugs and gangs. And a lot of good, like when the community comes together to support our young people as they become future leaders.
When Destiny Charter Middle School opened last year it was one of those amazing things where people from the only place I’ve called home unite to improve the education of our kids.
I’ve always encouraged my two sons Ezekiel and Tyrell to go to, and graduate from, college. I tell them it is the key to success and opportunity. So when I heard about a new school opening nearby, Ezekiel’s mother, grandmother and I decided to do some research and see if it could help get them to college. I liked what I read online about Green Dot Public Schools, especially how the Green Dot model prepares a diverse group of students for success in college. We did more research, attended a few events and talked to the staff and eventually decided this was the right school for Ezekiel and Tyrell.
One size does not fit all
My two boys are each their own person. Ezekiel is outgoing, and Tyrell is an introvert. The one thing both of them share is an eagerness to learn, but each of them learn in their own way.
At Tyrell’s old school we discovered he has a learning disability. Tyrell needs individual attention that he wasn’t getting at his old school to be successful in his school work. When I was doing my research about Green Dot, one of the things that stood out to me was the individual attention the teachers provide each student. After a half year at Destiny I’m seeing the impact Tyrell’s teachers are making. His reading has improved and he’s more interested in school. He’s excited to go to school every morning and when he comes home, he’s eager to tell me what’s going on in school.
Ezekiel loves to be challenged. At his old school he was getting good grades, but things were easy for him. At Destiny, the teachers challenge him to do his best and reach his potential. In math, his teachers are explaining and showing him the material, not just telling him to memorize something.
Both my sons’ teachers also call and update me on how they are doing; and, I even see staff out in the community, like at the Boys and Girls Club. Both tell me about how much their teachers care about their success.
I’ve been so impressed with the school and its staff that I’ve encouraged a diverse group of families from Hispanics to African Americans to Cambodians to attend the school. The Destiny community has become like a second family for me and my sons.
Supreme Court decision becomes a learning experience
When I found out the Supreme Court ruled public charter schools unconstitutional I was shocked, but at the same time, I thought this can be a learning experience for my sons. I’ve gone down to Olympia with my sons and fully supported them while they stood up for their school and community. This experience has taught them that they have to fight for what they believe in and stand up for their rights, to make sure everyone has the right to high-quality options in public education.
Helping Tacoma’s future leaders
I’ve seen a lot in my years in Tacoma, but nothing more impressive than the community coming together to fight for the right to send their kids to the public school of their choice. We stand side by side with our kids because we believe in their education, Destiny Middle School and its staff.
As a community, we are seeing young people excited to wake up to go to school every day and who are taking charge of their education. The founding students at Destiny Middle School will be our future leaders and lawmakers.
The opportunity and choice for a better education means better citizens. For me and my family, this starts here and now in Tacoma with Destiny Middle School.