Editor’s Note: Today’s post is written by Zoe Farrell, a high school student at IDEAS Academy in Sheboygan, WI. The blog details her experiences with the schools and Expanding Horizons - college and world readiness programming that requires funding beyond the regular school day. Zoe highlights her experiences at UW - Whitewater and a service trip to Nicaragua. She is part of the Good Cause funded by the Good Music of The Étude Sessions. We’re honored to bring students like Zoe and artists like Melissa Etheridge together to support education.
In the middle of my sixth grade year, I moved from Plymouth to Sheboygan. While this wasn’t my first time moving, it was my first time switching districts. Us moving was difficult as is, and having to enter a school where I knew no one and which was different than I was used to could only make it worse. My mom quickly found The Mosaic School while searching for schools my sister and I could attend. Impressed with their encouragement of the arts, small class sizes and their friendly reputation, she enrolled me in Mosaic and my sister in the elementary school in The Etude Group, ESAA. The Etude Group was new to not only my family, but also the Sheboygan community itself. Being a small charter school, The Etude Group relies on fundraising via The Etude Sessions concert series in order to afford the opportunities presented to the students beyond the regular school day.
Transitioning into the Mosaic community was quick and painless. I loved the small classes and the project and discussion-based curriculum. My already developing skills in art and creative writing only flourished further.
One of my favorite aspects of attending Mosaic and IDEAS was and still is the college visits that we are taken on. The school’s goal is to have every student be properly exposed to multiple of the post-secondary options that we all have. Whether it be to go on a field trip to the school simply to tour, or be visited by a representative and learn about their school, all students have the wealth of knowledge in order to make the best decision possible by the time they graduate.
One of my personal favorite trips that we get to go on every year is to University of Wisconsin - Whitewater in order to attend the UW-Whitewater Creative Writing Festival. Whether or not I submitted any writing to be critiqued, since eighth grade I’ve gone to the festival every year, captivated by other students’ writing and the opportunity to have my own read and workshopped by a professional and a group of like-minded students.
At IDEAS Academy, each student must take a foreign language class for at least two years, this typically being Spanish. Having gone through all three years of Spanish at Mosaic, continuing on at IDEAS was no chore. In my freshman year, it was announced that spots were available for students to take a ten day service learning trip to a foreign country. The fact that I even had the opportunity to do this made me ecstatic. Never had I thought that I would get the chance to leave the country before I was even 18. During that summer, myself and a small group of other Spanish students from my school made the journey to Granada, Nicaragua. In Granada, we spent the nights with host families and the days learning Spanish from teachers in the city as well as exploring our surroundings. On the very first day we went on a walking tour of the city we were in. On following days we visited the biggest market in the area, hiked two different volcanoes, ventured into a bat cave, went swimming in a crater, learned how traditional pottery was made and visited the ocean.
Opportunities presented by The Étude Group schools, like travelling abroad and visiting colleges couldn’t have done me any better in my life. For a long time I had no idea what I wanted to do with my future, but I now know that I would love to attend school for business and hopefully open my own small business one day. My main goal is to make as much of a difference in my own community as The Étude Group has in ours. Not only do I have a strong idea of what I want to do with my life and know what I need to do to get there, but the people I have encountered, the conversations and experiences that have had shaped me as the determined person I am today.
—Zoe Farrell, junior at IDEAS Academy