We recently spoke with Impact parent Nadja Michel-Herf who has a Kindergarten scholar, Julian, attending Impact | Salish Sea Elementary! Read about what Julian loves most about school and Nadja’s own experience with Impact.
Impact: Nadja, what made you choose Impact Public Schools?
Nadja Michel-Herf: I work in the education sector and became familiar with Impact’s school mission, and it really spoke to me and my husband. After we attended an info session, we saw that Julian was also excited by Impact. They did a great job of explaining what the school model would be, both to us as parents and to Julian as well; and that was important.
Impact: Tell us about Julian!
NMH: School is definitely challenging and maybe even humbling for Julian. But he loves it. The teachers create such a positive culture. Julian was nervous about the transition from preschool to Kindergarten. He was clinging to us on the first day, but within five minutes of our departure, [Impact staff member] Ms. Kiyota, sent us a photo of him at his desk, looking comfortable, safe, and interested.
Now, he’s always the first kid sitting down to listen to read. He loves reading. He also likes movement/dance breaks and science. Math is challenging, but he’s taking to it. He’s constantly counting. For example, he counted the steps between the couch to the front door this morning! And the other day at the dentist, he wouldn’t open his mouth for examination until he counted to 100 in his head. (He was at 83). He’s so proud of those little moments of celebration. And he loves coming home and telling us about when something good happened in school.
Impact: What’s Julian’s experience been like in class and with his teachers?
NMH: So Julian is very small! However, he feels so comfortable in the classroom environment. In fact, the tallest kid in the class makes a special effort to say hello to him. It’s clear the kids are learning tolerance and empathy.
My parents read to Julian on Zoom every week and they were reading Frog and Toad and they noticed that Julian was making emotional connections and really demonstrating emotional intelligence. This is definitely thanks to Impact and all the books they’re reading about the differences in people. There’s even a unit on bullying. I just feel like Julian’s brain is exploding with information.
The two teachers, Ms. Rodriguez and Ms. Kellog are so attuned to each kid’s personality and the table dynamics. They just always know what’s going on and are so poised.
Also, It’s so clear that Ms. Rodriguez has pedagogical training. She’s even given us phrases to help us with Julian. Phrases like “prove it to me” that help with his critical thinking, and other phrases that help with stubbornness or not making him feel bad when he has the wrong answer.
Impact: What’s been your own experience with Impact?
NMH: The level of communication is really awesome. Ms. Rodriguez tends to respond in minutes. Sometimes I want to tell her that it’s okay and she doesn’t have to! Impact in general is super attuned to our needs and being open to parent feedback.
As a parent and someone who works in education, I also want to recognize that the teachers are the experts and that this is a learning experience for everyone. Impact is giving us such good training as Julian gets older – in terms of exploring who he is, his academic successes and challenges. Impact is a great foundation for that.