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Brian Schlichting

Answer to Prayer

This summer marked a new chapter for our family, our family of 6+ moved from Cincinnati OH to Cape Girardeau, MO.  Among the many transitions, one of the most critical and the one that we prayed for consistently was the adaptation to our new school.  We prayed for many things but often asked for signs or affirmation that we were following God’s will in our discernment to send our 3 older children to Prodigy Leadership Academy.  The Lord is faithful and sent us a few signs and today I would like to expand on two. 


A few weeks ago, our family experienced an unexplainable joy that came from an assignment from a Prodigy teacher for Eduardo to study the moon for a month.  During Eduardo’s observation of the moon, he experienced Jesus in a way that touched his heart deeply. The way he described his encounter with Jesus was beautiful and profound and I truly believe it was influenced by the seeds planted at school to know God more and encounter Him in everyday life.


Most recently, another example of God’s provision was affirmed.  As background, developing strong relationships has been an ongoing challenge for Eduardo.  As a mom, my heart aches as I flashback to my cafeteria duty in the previous school. I vividly remember seeing Eduardo looking lost and puzzled on where to sit and finally making his way to an empty table and sitting by himself with a blank stare for the rest of the lunch period.  Sigh. 


Well, God knew what Eduardo needed, because PLA has been a fountain of encouragement and acceptance in such a short time.  The teachers have modeled such grace for his unique personality and truly see him how God sees him.  Because of this, Eduardo believes in himself and how that he was made for good things, so much so that he recently ran for class representative and had the courage to say a speech in front of his classroom.  He even won the vote!  Wow!!


We are beyond grateful for PLA and what it is doing in the lives of our children.  Each of the teachers have said, "Yes," to a calling.  How wonderful that we have the privilege to see the fruit of their labor. Thanks PLA for all you do!

Thank you,

Erika Andrade

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When we started our family, it was with trust and faith in the local, small, rural school a mere 5 miles from our acreage in Bollinger County. We were thrilled with small class sizes and school that felt similar to the smaller public schools that my husband and I had graduated from. It was so important to us that our children be able to experience a sense of close community and one-on-one teaching that we felt was critical to establishing firm foundations. We had been conditioned to believe that small schools equaled excellent academic institutions.

By the time my oldest daughter had completed the third grade, we were learning quite a different experience than we had anticipated.

Fourth grade was a game-changer. My honor roll eldest became a shell of herself. The bright, vibrant, inquisitive, and engaged little girl we sent off on day one became a discouraged, self-conscious, emotional bundle of nerves. Every night ended in tears and frustrations and outbursts in the practice of completing homework that often included three pages of math and 2-4 pages of ELA exercises-this on top of hefty reading expectations in order to comply with obligatory but meaningless  AR goals. My husband and I felt shell-shocked. We would text each other during the day to strategize what we would do each night in order to ensure the most relaxing environment for our daughters to be able to complete their homework. We would drain ourselves of energy, just trying to keep our little ones engaged. We supervised homework for 2-3 hours each night-every minute of it full of tears and frustrations about not being taught that day's needs because there 'wasn't time' to do it at the end of the day. 9 and 10 year olds telling us they were "no good at it," and questioning if they would have to repeat grades-in spite of the fact that they were always on the Honor Rolls. Asking in the mornings if they HAD to go to school.  NO ONE had ever prepared me for the possibility that my child might be miserable in her learning environment.

Eight weeks into 4th grade, I emailed my child's teacher to ask if I could come into class a few times each week so that I could learn the 'new math,' as many of the methods baffled us, and it was important to us to be able to understand in order to help our children. She responded, in an email I will preserve forever as a reminder, that it would be a "traumatic" experience for me to be in the same classroom as my child. I found PLA that night and began researching it.

I began doing what all parents do when their children are sick or discouraged: I researched everything I could, in order to diagnose the problem. I learned about the common sense methods practiced in some schools-referred to as "project based learning." I learned about the promise shown in the 4day school model and visited schools across MO to meet with administrators and teachers about that model, and the models showing incredible promise in ''innovative,' or 'problem-based' instruction.  My husband and I each took considerable leave from our jobs throughout the year to visit, shadow, and advocate for these changes at our school. ALL of this worry and time and resources were spent for one reason: the bottom line for us is that our children be allowed to learn in a welcoming environment that encourages diversity of thought and which builds life long learners. Because, in a world that is seeing breakthroughs and advancements in multiple sectors at a faster pace than ever before , and in a world that grows smaller each day, in which practical application and well-established social skills are KEY, it will be crucial to have a desire to keep learning, keep advancing, and keep finding joy in the journey of learning and in being open. Those that will adapt best, be the most successful, and experience the most satisfaction will be those who can 'shift gears' and who have great flexibility in learning.

We are so grateful to have found a school that offers everything we have studied and hoped for in our children's school: small class size, project based learning, 4 day school weeks, and a welcoming of individuality and a focus on one-on-one instruction. Our girls are already showing more confidence and independence, and are genuinely excited about learning.


Abby came home from school at the end of the second week, and quiet excitedly proclaimed "Guess what?? At this school, I am GOOD at math and I am GOOD at learning! I am really good, mama-you wouldn't even believe it! I LIKE to learn now, I really do! I LOVE this school. I LOVE my teacher!!" And, that's ver close to verbatim, if not verbatim. It was a great moment.


I bawled into my potato soup.


Lizzy has suprised us with how insightful she has been about the experience. At the end of the first week, which was only 2 days, I believ, she said "It's not thatit's that different from [my old school], but there is just so much more to DO, and we get to DO things that help us learn and have fun and so, yeah, I guess it is different. It doesn't even feel like I am at school!"

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For us Prodigy wasn’t so much an escape from something that wasn’t working.  It was more like we finally saw what education should look like and what that could mean for our children.  

As business owners who work with other business owners every day, my wife and I have seen a real shift in the type of workers that are needed in every workplace.  What we see in this shift is a move from the need for simple order takers to the need for people who can really think through a problem, find a solution, and act on it.  The way we work today is so much different than the workplace of 80 or 50…or even just 15 years ago.  

With readily available information and automation changing so much about how we work, it’s pretty frustrating to realize that the typical classroom looks almost exactly the same as it did 80 years ago…rows of desks with a board of some type at the front where the teacher is.  This isn’t the real world anymore.  And it shouldn’t be what our children’s classrooms look like either.  In Prodigy, we found a match between needs that we are witnessing in real life and a school that is striving to meet those real life needs.

What we also found at Prodigy is acceptance.  Teachers are accepting of students at every stage of learning.  They challenge them every step of the way to succeed while also supporting them when they experience failure.  And maybe the most amazing thing is that the students are allowed to experience failure.  Understanding what failure feels like and what to do about it is such a crucial skill as an adult.  Most of the world today would shelter children from that experience, but what kind of chance does that give them as an adult?  

So my kids fail in school…and it’s amazing!  This means they will be ready to overcome challenges and failures throughout their life.  And it is a skill they will learn early in life. Kids are resilient…they are amazing…and they are capable of so much.  Prodigy allows them to realize those capabilities.

Since joining Prodigy Leadership Academy, our children have thrived academically.  We couldn’t be happier with the choice we made.

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