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At Bushwick Ascend, My Son and I Were Welcomed with Open Arms

Heidi Almodovar

October 23, 2023

Para leer esta publicación en español, haga clic aquí.

I first learned about Ascend when my son Nathan was five years old. He started Pre-K at a special needs school, but the goal was always to transition him to a mainstream educational program. I was already looking for a school that would give him what he needs to succeed in life.

Some of the students in my son’s karate class came from Bushwick Ascend Lower School. I was impressed by the confidence and the focus of the Ascend students. When they were doing homework in the sensei’s after-school program, they had an attitude like, “I got this!” That’s what I wanted for Nathan.

I transferred Nathan to Bushwick Ascend for 3rd grade. Walking into the school felt like we were walking into our home. Everybody from the principal, Ms. Lisa Roach, to the security guard at the front desk, welcomes you like they know you. Nathan is a 4th grader now, and he knows everybody at school. He loves the other kids and the environment.

Ascend teachers are always learning and looking for new and better ways to help students. Like many other students with special needs, Nathan has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that outlines the support he needs in order to learn. His teachers put in extra time to make sure he understands each assignment. They know when they need to guide him and when to push him to be more independent. When they see he’s having trouble, they contact me so we can discuss and get our ideas together. The staff also makes sure he’s getting the most out of his IEP and getting the specialized in-school services he needs.

When Nathan first got to Ascend, he was reading nicely but had trouble with comprehension. His homeroom teacher, Mr. Brian Lawlor, took extra time to help him put his understanding into writing, by asking “Who? Why? What?” questions. His IEP counselor, Ms. Natalie Feldmeier, arranged for a special in-school tutor, so he gets 30-minute tutoring sessions twice a week to reinforce his learning. Now, Nathan is more confident in reading comprehension. He feels like he’s got this.

Ascend teachers don’t just build relationships with students and families. They create opportunities for parents to get to know one another, through school events and student performances. By getting to know the other parents, I’m getting to know their children through them. I really like knowing the people my son spends his time around. It makes the whole school feel like a safe, warm environment. We are their neighborhood, and it feels good to see an excellent school welcoming more students and families into our Bushwick community.

If a parent asked my advice on choosing a school, I would say: what do you want for your child? If you want a school with a strong structure, where there are loving and dedicated teachers who work with you to meet your child’s unique needs, that’s what Ascend has provided for me and my son.


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