Intrinsic Schools – Mustang Mom for Life!

My name is Nancy Jimenez. I am a proud parent of two (soon to be three) Intrinsic Schools scholars. I can honestly say with confidence that sending my children to Intrinsic Schools changed my life as well as the lives of my children.

Growing up, getting an education was no easy task. My parents emigrated to Chicago from Mexico with very little education themselves, but they taught me the importance of hard work. That work ethic and determination led me to apply for my first job at 14 years old. But at my high school, I got lost in the system. I was clearly driven and was capable of accomplishing any feat, but I had no one to guide me on the right path. Because of this, I ended up dropping out of high school. Later on, I got my GED, worked my way up the ladder to an excellent job, and came to the conclusion that I never wanted my children to take the same path I did. As someone who luckily recovered, my children should not have to do the same and live life with regrets.

When it came to education for my oldest child, Isaaq, I sent him to a private elementary school, where I thought he would be safe and supported. We found, however, that he would often finish his work well ahead of time, get excellent scores, and then get bored. None of the teachers caught his curiosity or pushed him to learn more. At the end of a handful of unengaging elementary school years, we had to decide what the best next steps would be for Isaaq – private school or traditional public school? But then, my sister saw Intrinsic Schools on Facebook. She clicked the link and showed me this interesting, unique school that was just minutes from my house. The classrooms were like nothing we’d ever seen, since they were formed into “pods” with spaces for independent work time, teacher-led instruction, and student collaboration. A detail that caught my eye was that every student got a Chromebook. In addition to technology, they all got personalized support – something I hoped for Isaaq to have in school.

This seemed like a fantasy –  too good to be true. Isaaq felt this was his dream school, and because of that, we decided to apply for a seat in their Class of 2019. As time went by, we were about ready to sign the papers for Isaaq’s private high school until we got the call that he was accepted into Intrinsic. With weighing two options for high school, Isaaq and I went to an open house with a list of questions. Each one of them was patiently answered by Melissa Zaikos, the school’s CEO. Upon leaving, my 13-year-old son said, “Mom, I belong here. This is my dream school. I need to be here.” I couldn’t argue with that. Because of my son’s great enthusiasm, we accepted.

That first year, we found out that Isaaq was actually significantly behind when it came to his math skills, a subject that he excelled in back in elementary school. From the first moment he stepped into class until the last day, the Algebra I teachers worked tirelessly to catch him up. With their strong support, the following year, he completed three years of math: Geometry, Algebra II, and Precalculus all at an honors level. Since then, they found a structure and balance that worked just right for him. It was amazing to see as a parent, since Isaaq went from learning with the class to learning at his own accelerating pace.

As he advanced throughout high school, we began to think about college. This was foreign to me since I never thought about college when I was younger. Luckily for us, the Intrinsic post-secondary team filled that gap for us. With watching Isaaq stare at his monitor for hours pouring his heart into essays he wrote for 26 colleges, I am proud to say he will be attending The University of Chicago on a full scholarship. We couldn’t be happier that we sent him to Intrinsic and that they took his drive and talent and guided him to achieve his dreams.

My younger daughter, who is already excelling in their middle school with straight A+’s, will be attending Intrinsic’s high school program next school year and, when the time comes, my youngest son will attend Intrinsic. At Intrinsic, we are all a family. Sometimes, it is hard for me to describe how amazing the school and staff are. It brings me comfort as a parent to know that students are getting a great education and that Intrinsic is a very safe place. With so much support, I am unsure where my family and I would be without Intrinsic. This school has truly been life-changing and I am honored to have the opportunity for my children to become their best selves.