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Muncie grandmother chooses better educational future for family

November 20th 2019

Families choose to send their children to non-public schools because of a myriad of reasons. Some choose faith-based schools for their practicing religion. Others choose independent college preparatory schools so their child can get into an elite post-secondary program. Many, however, choose a non-public school because their district school just wasn’t working for them.

That’s the beauty of school choice. Parents can choose the best education for their child based on their unique needs, values or beliefs. For those who live in a district with high-scoring public schools, excellent teachers and impressive programs, school choice may not be on their radar because it doesn’t need to be. For others, like Kristi Hinton’s family, who live in a lower income area with failing schools and large class sizes, having options is important.

Kristi has six grandchildren at St. Lawrence Catholic School in Muncie, Ind., five of whom are able to go because of the Choice Scholarship (Voucher) Program, while the youngest is in kindergarten and wasn’t eligible.

“I have had custody of the grandson who is currently in kindergarten, so I started looking into schools for him last year,” Kristi said. “In my search, I found out about the voucher program and Principal Frey explained everything we needed to know to apply.”

The Choice Scholarship and Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) programs are vital to many of the families at Saint Lawrence.

“Our student population is nearly 50 percent non-white, and more than 70 percent of our students participate in the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program,” said Rob Frey, principal of St. Lawrence Catholic School.

“Without the help of the Choice Scholarship, dozens of local children would be required to attend other nearby schools, many of which are rated as “D” or “F” by the Department of Education. Despite the challenges many of our families face, we’ve been an “A” rated school for the past ten years. We work hard to show love and compassion for each child while instilling accountability for learning and behavior.”

Those values taught at St. Lawrence was one of the main reasons Kristi wanted her grandchildren to go there.

“Having respect for others, being selfless, all the things I was taught growing up in school now seem to be missing,” Kristi said. “Having my grandkids at St. Lawrence helps them to build good character, believe in themselves and have someone to reach out to when they need help.”

Kristi said her older grandchildren were struggling to keep their grades up at their previous school, and now that has changed at St. Lawrence. Instead of teachers being too occupied disciplining the other children, she said the kids get actual quality instruction.

“Two of my grand kids are really shy and timid,” Kristi said. “They experienced a lot of bullying at their public school. The kids absolutely love St. Lawrence because there’s only a handful of people in their class and when they have a question it gets answered. Those smaller class sizes gave them more individualized learning. If there was bullying going on, the teacher sees it and addresses it. The education they’re getting now is so much better.”

“As principal, I love having Kristi’s grandchildren at our school,” Frey said. “They are a joy to interact with, they are making great academic gains, and they have been a tremendous addition to our school community. I’m happy that Indiana trusts families to choose the school that best fits their needs, and I’m thrilled that Kristi chose Saint Lawrence Catholic School.”