Friday, May 17, 2013

A Love Affair.... With Wolfe Street Academy

By Stacey Bauer

Wolfe Street Academy is a community school that has enriched children's lives for as long as I can remember. ln fact, rny love story begins long before my children attended this school. During the 1990-91 school year, my parents made the decision to transfer my younger sister and I from Catholic school to public school. My mother believed we had received a great education at the previous school, but tuition costs had influenced the decision to move us to the public school. At this time, Wolfe Street Academy was known as General Wolfe Elementary School.

I started General Wolfe as a new fifth grade student. As a new student to enter the school, placement tests were needed to ensure that I was on the right track. My teacher, Ms. Wanda Pagan, made the discovery that I was a year behind the other fifth grade students. During the parent/teacher conference, Ms. Pagan requested time to get me back on track. I was placed in a reading class that had 9 other students. We all worked hard. However, Ms. Pagan showed me a passion for books. I was always a reader; however, I became enthralled with books. I learned to take my time with words and began to understand what I was reading. By the end of the school year, Ms. Pagan exceeded her goal. I was reading on a 7th grade level. General Wolfe paved the way for me to succeed in middle school; graduate with a 3.4GPA in high school and a 3.BGPA from college. I will always be grateful.

This was the end of my education, but not the end of my story. General Wolfe received a new student in the 2004-05 school year. Elena Telles, my oldest daughter, turned 4 years old and started Pre-Kindergarten. Her teachers and I noticed Elena was distant and quiet. She didn't respond well and often hid under tables to be alone. After testing and numerous appointments with doctors, Elena was diagnosed with Autism. General Wolfe transferred Elena to a new school that should have been more appropriate to fit her needs. I was unimpressed and insisted she be taught in a regular class.

In the fall of 2005, I transferred Elena back to General Wolfe (later renamed Wolfe Street Academy). I met the nicest people. I was ensured that Elena would be welcomed and a program was developed for her needs. Over the next few years, the principal, Mr. Mark Gaither, went above what was required by her program. He and his teachers refused to allow Elena to fall into the autism world. She began speaking and laughing. Most importantly, she too developed a passion for reading . ln 2011, Elena was in her last year at Wolfe Street. Her progress was noticed by all as she was on stage at the annual talent show, being the MC and leading the crowd in the Cha-Cha slide.

Elena continues to thrive in school, always on the honor roll. However, this year, in the 7th grade, Elena overcame her biggest hurdle. She no longer needs the special programs and is functioning well in a regular education program. Many will think that her new school should get the credit for her progress. However, my credit will always lie with Wolfe Street Academy, its teachers and most of all, its principal Mr. Mark Gaither.

I don't know if I will ever be able to express the gratitude I have for this school. My youngest daughter, Faith Bauer, is thriving in the school. This small community school knows how to enrich children's minds and encourage them to reach for excellence. Who knows? Maybe in 20 years I will be writing about how my grandchildren are thriving at Wolfe Street Academy.