What Do You Do When your Child’s School Isn’t Working?

“I thought I hated to learn.”

These are the words of a student who was misunderstood at her school. “I couldn’t stand sitting still,” Kaari says. “I thought adults didn’t understand me.”

Is it always your child’s fault if they don’t do well in school? If they don’t get along with their teachers, or with other students?

What if there was a place where your child could thrive – where people understood her?

At the public school Kaari attended, she was bullied by classmates and wasn’t challenged by teachers. She was unmotivated to perform well in school, and she was deeply unhappy.

She was a different person when she came to Fusion Academy than she is now.

Now, she smiles and chats happily about her time in school. “I love to learn because I have people who know me, who are welcoming. Teachers care about your education. They want to see you succeed.”

Kaari’s favorite classes are English and Recording Arts. She’s writing her own music, and even sings at Fusion’s open mics once a month. In English class, she wrote a historical fiction piece about civil war soldiers, one of her many interests in school.

She also takes chemistry, geometry, and world history. Kaari is one of Fusion Academy’s 60-odd full-time students. Students and families have the option of creating their own full-time or part-time schedule, based on their individual needs.

In addition to studying full time, Kaari, a talented volleyball player, gets to play in a league outside school. She plans to continue the sport in college.

Because of Fusion’s flexible scheduling and built-in study periods, Kaari also gets to enjoy taking care of her pets and spending time with her family, now that she can leave school without being burdened with homework and the stress of being in an unhappy environment all day.

Kaari’s parents told Fusion Academy Principal Jennifer Doss, “She’s the real Kaari again.”

Marion Peterson, an English teacher at Fusion, has been a mentor to Kaari since Kaari’s first day at school, when Peterson brought her a volleyball to help her feel welcome.

Peterson, a former curriculum director and principal in California schools, including a high school in Palo Alto that she started, fell in love with Fusion when she decided to make a shift back to teaching.

Her teaching motto is to combine passion for the subject with compassion for the student. This helps her mentor her students through their struggles with learning and identify their academic interests and strengths.

Her focus is on the student, not on the curriculum: but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t believe in the classics. All her students will study Shakespeare. They read Aristotle’s Manichean Ethics in conjunction with Katherine Mansfield and Greek tragedy and existentialism.

And they have fun doing it. One eighth-grader’s presentation on Shakespeare included a Twitter account he had made for the Weird Sisters of Macbeth. One student studied the Star Wars novels using elements of literature.

Students learn to identify symbols and recognize archetypes in their reading. They write essays, short stories, critical analyses, and poetry.

She is the typical Fusion teacher in that she is not a typical teacher.

Fusion celebrates students’ individuality. There is no “typical” Fusion student. But Kaari says, “There is not a single person here who doesn’t fit in.”

“Teachers care about you and they want to see you succeed,” Kaari says, smiling. “They show you the path to who you are.”

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