How CICS Prairie Helps my Daughter Thrive

My name is LaTrese Williams and I want to share my experience with CICS Prairie. I have one child in Prairie, my daughter, Destiny, who will be starting 2nd grade in the fall. I am a lifelong Chicagoan, although I did live in Los Angeles for a few years. The weather made staying very tempting, but I knew Chicago was my one true home.

When I came back to Chicago, I was searching for preschools for Destiny. She started at a CPS school in our neighborhood. To be honest, I was not pleased with her experience there. I had many issues with the administration, but most notably, my daughter, who I like to describe as a social butterfly, became withdrawn and quiet. I tried to bring this to the attention of the staff, but I had to jump through hoops every time I did and was never satisfied with the response of administrators. I knew that I needed to find her another option for the start of kindergarten.

We considered private schools, but the cost was too high. I thought it unfair that I was restricted in my choice of school options. All I wanted was the best for Destiny so she could reach her full potential. I got lucky one day…the day she was accepted to CICS Prairie for the beginning of the Kindergarten year.

I was familiar with charter schools already, as my oldest son attended a Noble charter school for high school. Yet, I was still so inspired by CICS Prairie from the very beginning. Pretty quickly, Destiny became more sociable, and her teachers commented on her eagerness to engage with her fellow classmates. I could tell that she was already enjoying Prairie more than preschool.

Even in Kindergarten, her teachers were very communicative about her progress and performance. During the school year, her teacher discovered that she was not participating as much as she could in class. She soon learned that Destiny was afraid of being wrong and, as a result, chose not to share her answers with the class. I was so impressed with how quickly the staff tackled the issue and worked with me to help her be more confident and comfortable in class. A few months later, she was participating everyday!

Destiny loves math and science. She entered into last year’s school science fair that featured all grades. Destiny was in heaven! Not only did she feel accomplished by the work she completed for her presentation, but she was also fascinated by the projects of older students. She continued to be challenged throughout the year and gave her suggestions to further her science knowledge during the summer. This passion and care is common amongst the staff at Prairie, and I’m so grateful it is helping Destiny blossom into a bright young student.

The academics that Prairie provides would be enough to satisfy a parent. But, the school is also such a beautiful community. I am part of the PTL (The Parent Teacher League) so I’ve seen first-hand how committed both the parents and the administration are to ensuring the school is a safe and welcoming place. My favorite part of the day is picking Destiny up from school because I get to see my daughter and engage and socialize with the parents and staff. They are like family to me.

I know that Destiny has a bright future thanks to Prairie. This past year, the school had “College Day,” during which the teachers wore the sweatshirts of their alma maters and talked about the importance of college in their lives. Prairie is instilling in Destiny the significance of college. When Destiny graduates from college (Class of 2032!), I’ll know CICS Prairie contributed greatly to that moment.