JACKSONVILLE – Dana Roberts had high hopes for her 5-year-old son, DJ, as she readied him for his first day of pre-school.
Remembering her own pleasant school experience, she expected her bright, inquisitive little boy soon would be challenged by caring educators who would coax away his shyness and address his difficulty sounding out letters and grasping a pencil.
She trusted that once he settled among children his age, he would begin to forget the taunts and bullying he suffered from teenagers at the family’s apartment complex.
Instead, she found DJ’s teacher overwhelmed and too busy with other students to pay attention to him. The teacher told her DJ’s never-ending questions – Why do fuses blow? Why do eggs change color when they’re cooked? – were a distraction to his classmates.
Based on the scant morsels DJ shared with her at the end of each long day, she worried he was withdrawing further into his shell.
Then the principal suggested she send DJ to a private school where he could receive more individual attention. Dana was crushed.
“When I was in school, teachers worked hard to make a difference in the lives of children, preparing them for their future,” she said. “That’s what I wanted for DJ.”