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Parent Interview - Latonia Cherry

April 11, 2017
By Rachael Dittmar

Recently, I sat down with one of our own TNA parents, Latonia Cherry, to learn a little bit about her experiences at our school. Although each child is different, many of her insights reaffirmed the values we share here. She also provided some great advice to new parents 

How long have you been part of the TNA community? 

Our daughter Shataya is currently a Junior and she enrolled in 8th grade.

Why TNA?

Truthfully, it was our daughters decision. She had been in Catholic schools and researched The Neighborhood Academy on her own when it was time for her to “graduate” from her previous school.  We [as her parents] were particularly impressed by the curriculum and structure of the extended school day, like with the built in after school activities and evening study time. We were pretty sold on the school right away after reading the website. The Open House just confirmed everything we hoped for.

How have you seen TNA impact your child?

She’s always been very studious, but since her time at TNA we’ve seen her break out of her shell. She used to be very shy, for example, when doing group projects she used to try to get the other students in the group to present so she wouldn’t have to get up in front of everyone. With the tours she gives, and more recently her role in the Dating Violence Resource Fair, Shataya is no longer afraid of public speaking and does it with ease. 

What’s the best thing you’ve done to support your daughter?

Being there for her. Especially in the beginning, when she was first transitioning, there was a lot more emotional adjustment and even more help with homework checks. I used to ask her weekly what tests she had coming up, but as she got used to the work load, I stopped needing to. She started internalizing her own academic needs. And her grades show her responsibility. TNA gives enough notification so you know if something isn’t right with your child.

What’s the best advice you can give to current or perspective TNA parents?

Prime your child for what’s ahead of them. TNA is going to expect more than other schools. We told Shataya, who had always been an A-student, “you might not get all A’s or even B’s at first and that’s okay.” We would much rather see her try really hard and fail than not try at all. I would also tell new parents to be there through the frustrations. [Coming to TNA is] a huge change for most students and sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen to them and be there for them. Additionally, I would tell Shataya to take advantage of all of the tutors and advisors. There’s no excuse not to!

Our Middle School Transition

March 14, 2017
By Ron Snyder
Dear future middle school parent,
Anytime the topic of my transition over to the Middle School was brought up with family, friends and fellow teachers, there has been one recurring question amongst all of them: “How are you going to adjust to the younger kids?” To be honest, it was not something that I seriously considered when deciding to take on the task of educating 6th and 7th graders, because I thought that during my 5 years at the high school level, the students couldn’t possibly be that much different...could they? I remember the moment I realized HOW different these younger students are going to be, and the ways in which my approach is going to differ on a day to day basis.
For the first time in my professional career, I was invited to get involved in admissions process and meet the families for the first time they walked through the doors. With every family that sat down to talk about what they wanted for their children, it became abundantly clear that these young men, these 6th and 7th graders, were much different from the experiences I had while teaching 11th and 12th grade. Those upper classes are more focused with a quiet energy that has been harnessed and focused through several years of The Neighborhood Academy’s classroom experience.
The realization that the teachers at the Middle School, that I, would be tasked with setting the tone for the next 5 to 6 years for these students was one of excitement and anticipation! These young men who now possess that same energy and focus in its most raw form, will be guided by the principles and expectations that I have come to embrace during my time with the high school. With this in mind, we are currently developing a unique approach to our academic day, making sure to incorporate not only the educational growth through our core curriculum, but the physical and spiritual realms as well through outdoor excursions and community outreach.
On top of curriculum development in our own classrooms, we have been planning trips to local middle schools on both ends of the success spectrum. By learning about what works and what does not in these real life middle school environments, we are setting up our students for a successful college prep experience as they move forward in our program. Your child will be asked to do things that most traditional schools will not ask them to do, because both you and I know that your child is not the traditional student. They seek to have their energies focused, horizons broadened, and experiences memorable. We look forward to that opportunity with your student, and even more so you and your child becoming a part of our family.
Ron Snyder Jr.

Raising Kids...Tough Love Warranted

February 03, 2017
By Ronika Frank

I like to consider myself to be a good parent, as all parents would. Not a great parent or a perfect parent, just someone who does her best raising three young ladies (ages 19, 12, & 9) that, God willing, grow up to be productive members in their own community.

I was raised to expect my mother, father, aunt, uncles, and anyone else remotely related to me to be "all up in my business".  When I would attempt to remind my mother that something was "my business", she would gently (well, not so gently) remind me, "You don't have any business".
My desire is to be their mom, (or mommy when they want something). I am not their friend and I need to have the energy to be all up in their business, as my parents were in mine.

I'm aware of this new thing called violating your children's privacy. In my house, the only people that have a privacy right are the people who 1. own the home 2. pay the monthly mortgage/rent 3. pay the bills and 4. make certain there is a meal on the table. I am very clear that once they get their own place that I will then respect their privacy (probably still not fully :)

This brings me to my title: Tough Love Warranted.  Within the urban community we have transitioned into what I call new-age parenting: "they need their privacy", "I want them to know I'm their friend". NO! We are their parents first, and our number one goal must be to assist them in molding their character, morals, and ethics. It is not an easy task, and it takes more than just the parent to execute this successfully. Remember the saying "It takes a village to raise a child"? 

For The Neighborhood Academy parents reading this long story, that is what we have here at TNA. I say we because I learn something new about parenting every day from your children. Some things I learn make me think about a different approach to a situation I may be having with my daughters, and others make me see that our children are more aware and wiser then we tend to give them credit for. As much as we would like to believe that our "babies" are naive to certain situations, in most cases this is farthest from the truth. We must meet our kids where they are in life.  

With social media in such high demand with our children, I make a point to check their sites and explain how the misuse of these apps may have a negative effect on their future opportunities, be it college acceptance, employment or character reference. Most companies, universities, networking prospects use these social media apps as a reference for rather individuals will be a "good fit" for their organization. 

Given the frequency of these warnings, I was surprised to see my beautiful, high honor, respectable child (isn't this how we all see our kids? :) post a status stating how she's going to "party like a rock star" (on a school night, I may add).  

You may be asking, “Where did my tough love come in”, right? Her father and I decided to have her post/write on the same social media page that, for starters, she's not legally of age to party like a rock star for another eight years, and she will be taking a break from her page until she becomes mature enough to use it correctly. Needless to say, she probably hates us at this point, but that is okay, normal, and should be expected from time to time. It means you’re doing your job as a parent.  

We are planning to resume our Hand to Hand Parent Institute sessions so that we may begin talking and sharing on topics that will continue to allow us to support each other in our parenting troubles. In the meantime, if you would like to share what parenting topics keep you awake at night, email me at Remember, my beloved community, it takes a village to raise a child, and we here at The Neighborhood Academy are deep rooted into being a part of that village.




What I Learned About Raising Kids

January 05, 2017
By Sheila Rawlings
My kids are grown now! My youngest is 25, but I still question, if I did the right things along the way.  They say hindsight is 20/20 vision, but not always.  My kids’ stories are still being written.  I think I avoided some landmines, at least I hope I have, but some well, I’m not so sure. 
For starters, let’s talk about creating life habits for children.  One statement that my mother drilled into me was “undisciplined children become undisciplined adults”.  I hated hearing that over and over again, but I have found that to be true.  Whatever habits and structure you create for your children, they will surely carry them out as adults.  It is for this reason that The Neighborhood Academy is committed to a structured school day, and a structured school year. 
Conversely, there are many adults that completely lack structure in their lives.  They can’t get up in time, they can’t get to work or school on time, they can’t keep a job, they can’t be consistent, and they can’t finish anything. 
When my children would sign up for a sport, or activities, they knew they were going to finish. There was no dropping out or saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore”.  No, that did not work in our house. If you start, you finish.  We are all about finishing.  Anyone can start, but the reward goes to the ones who finish, FINISH.
Some students try to convince their parents that our school day is too long or it’s too hard. Don’t fall for that! It’s not. It’s a full day of learning, as it should be. It’s structured to prepare students for the rigors of college, and it does.  For the students who adapt and continue this pattern, they go on to be successful adults. Let your children know they can do it, because they can!  
Consider this: We live in a global society.  We compete with individuals from all over the world now days for colleges and jobs, and your kids certainly will. Therefore, how we rank among other countries is now very important.  For instance, according to the Huffington Post listing of the best education systems in the world, it’s no shocker that South Korea and Japan top the list.  South Korean students endure 16-hour school days, yep 16 hours; while Japanese students after a typical 6 hours of classes, students participate in activities for two hours before cleaning the school for the next day, which equates to approximately 8-9 hours/day.  Then, all students must attend classes at least every other Saturday for half day of academics. And, approximately 60% of Japanese students go to Cram schools called ‘Juku’ in the evenings geared specifically to prepare them for college entrance exams.  Though this extends the students hours into the late evening and adds hours of homework to their work load, students have come to find this very stimulating. 
I say all of this because foreign students are outpacing US students as a matter of course which means that we must look at factors affecting student performance in the U.S.  Lengthy days and structured in-school time will not harm our students but will only help to prepare them to compete academically, socially and otherwise for life beyond high school.  I also say this because, this is the time of year when our kids feel burn out and they want to quit. Don’t let them!
What I learned about raising kids, schoolwork doesn’t hurt our kids.  The more they do the better.  If you have your child at The Neighborhood Academy, you’re doing the right thing. The discipline, the structure, the work, WILL pay off.  You won’t wonder if you’ve done the right thing, you will KNOW you did.
I welcome all comments and questions on this topic to 
Sources: . 1/3/17
Best Education in the World: Finland, South Korea Top Country Rankings, U.S. Rated Average. Updated January 27, 2013. 
Daily Life in Japanese High Schools, Marcia Johnson & Jeffrey Johnson, October 1996. Stanford SPICE (Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education.)

Recent Posts

4/11/17 - By Rachael Dittmar
3/14/17 - By Ron Snyder
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1/5/17 - By Sheila Rawlings
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