Let’s Talk About Our Education

Rachel Armstrong

The Charter Opinions

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our education is, without a doubt, one of the most important and cherishable aspects of our life. It is through education that we can create a better future, by becoming people that think avidly, learn passionately, live happily, and then teach our future generations the same. It is my hope that every student is able to make their education their own, an education that is not dictated by their grades, but instead by their desire to learn.

Child centered, parent guided, teacher supported” has been the proud motto of ACA for ten years. ACA tries to provide a unique and personalized education to each and every student, giving them an opportunity to take charge of their future. Its quirky, homeschool-onsite hybrid model is, like most things, perfect for some but not for all. So how then do we know what will give our students the best possible education accessible to them?

Perfect for some but not for all:

ACA actively works to offer every student with the opportunities they need to follow their passion. Sometimes, however, a student’s path lies elsewhere, as it happened for Ellenor Carter. Carter attended ACA for eight years, but transferred for high school and is now finishing her sophomore year at St. Mary’s Academy downtown Portland.

Her experience at ACA was “pretty good”, but the problem for her was “that it wasn’t a very close community, and so I just had a problem connecting with my peers, and I needed more opportunities as far as sports and activities go.”

Carter says, “I feel like part of the thing that frustrated me majorly about ACA was that they wanted to create this dream but they didn’t know how to implement it… I totally feel like what they’re trying to do – with more structure and organization it would be so much better, I would totally go back there.”

For Carter, ACA was just not the right fit.  During an interview she shared that she often felt as if, “classmates weren’t motivated… students just weren’t motivated to turn in school work and get school work done, they didn’t have this motivation to be successful.” In the end, she, along with her parents and ES, decided that Carter’s path laid elsewhere. Her decision to move opened up more doors than she could have ever accessed at ACA.

Jan Watt, the Special Events Coordinator at Cleveland High School, says that, “The most important aspect of a high school education, to me, is to reach out and be involved in some way, in some way other than homework. I don’t care if it’s community service, athletics clubs…In my view, high school is the time to explore and find your passion. High school, to me, is more than just the academic world, I think you need to be successful and you feed to have you goals you want to reach but it’s also a great time to find what you enjoy.” St. Mary’s Academy allows Carter to do just that.

What seems to be agreed upon by students, administrators, and teachers, is that at the heart of a good education are opportunities As Nic Chapin commented during an interview, “[high schools] should be a place that as kids mature and grow, they can find out who they are and what they like so that when they do get out into the working world, they’re passionate about what they’re doing. And so it [high schools] should be a place that looks at those things and encourages kids to really find what their passion is.”



Carter, Ellenor. In person interview, May 12th, 2017.

Chapin, Nic. In person interview, May 4th, 2017. In person, May 22nd, 2017
Watt, Jan. In person interview, May 12th, 2017