MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Jill Sommers was one of the parents who filled out an online registration form for her child to attend LEAD Academy last year, when the school initially made it available. Now that the school has overcome legal hurdles and announced plans to open this fall, she said she is just as excited about the opportunity as she was when she first signed up.
“To watch their fight to become a charter school...I’ve watched the entire thing from beginning to end,” Sommers said. “They weren’t afraid to take it to the end, and that says a lot. They didn’t turn and run, and I’m excited to see what they do. I hope everything they say they’re going to do happens. That would be phenomenal.”
Sommers taught in the Montgomery Public Schools system for 10 years. Her two older children attended both MPS schools and private schools, and her third child is currently in Kindergarten at Halcyon Elementary in MPS. She said her experience as both an educator and a parent influenced her decision to pursue another option for her child’s education.
“There are some great teachers there [MPS], and my kids have encountered them,” Sommers said. “They work, and they try and they do the best they can. MPS just seems to be a little overwhelmed with what’s going on in the schools and within the community. They haven’t found a way yet to make parents feel like our kids are getting the best education and that they’re safe. I know they’re trying, and I do give them credit for that. I have to do what’s in the best interest of my son.”
Sommers said, as a former educator, she is excited about the newness and fresh approach that LEAD Academy is promising to bring.
“They’re well aware of what’s going on in Montgomery, and I think they’re trying to harness that and maybe even challenge MPS a little,” Sommers said. “Let’s all get together and see that we can do things differently. We can approach it from an attitude of ‘change is good.’”
Charlotte Meadows, the chairperson for LEAD Academy’s board, confirmed more than 300 families have registered. The school will only be able to enroll 360 students, and she said she expects registration to surpass that. However, she said interested families, including those living in Pike Road, should still register. If there are more registrations than spots available, there will be a random lottery for each grade’s class where there is a surplus. Every student entered will have an equal opportunity to be selected.
Meadows said the school is preparing to hold a number of town hall meetings in early April for interested families.