Max Lewin attended his neighborhood elementary school from kindergarten through fifth grade. He liked his school, but he felt that he didn’t have any close friends.
“I always felt different,” said Max, 11. “I liked to sing and dance and do gymnastics. … Sometimes (kids) made fun of me.”
Max and his parents Marc and Laura decided to look into other options for middle school. Max found out about the Northwest School of the Arts, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet school for sixth to 12th grade. He applied, was accepted, and is in his second quarter of sixth grade.
“Well, now I know I can make friends,” said Max. “I really feel like I fit right in.”
He mom, Laura Lewin, agreed.
“Max is thriving and so happy,” said Laura Lewin, 44. “He will be performing in the middle school musical and has made many friends.”
South Charlotte resident Lewin’s three children all attend CMS magnet schools and are doing well. Daughter Kate, 10, and son Charlie, 8, attend Park Road Montessori.
As a parent and a professional school counselor, Lewin had firsthand knowledge of the issues students can face when the student-school fit was not ideal. After following 420 students through three grades of middle school, Lewin noted that only about half her students thrived.
“A good 25 percent of my students failed at least one class every quarter I was there (for 12 quarters), and that is a good indicator that the student is not in the right environment,” said Lewin.
As a school counselor, Lewin educated families about other non-tuition and non-neighborhood school options that were available to them.
“When kids are not in the right learning environment, they suffer,” said Lewin.
Lewin is the Director of Curriculum, High School, for Charlotte Secondary Paideia School, a charter school.
In the hopes of helping students find their perfect fit, Lewin organized the “One Size (School) Does Not Fit All” program to address common questions that parents may have:
• What do we do if our child is unhappy at public school?
• How do we find out what our public school alternatives are?
Sponsored by the Charlotte Secondary Paideia School, the Levine Jewish Community Center, and MeckEd (Mecklenburg Citizens for Public Education), this free program is for parents and children and is open to the public.
“One Size” will be held at the Levine Jewish Community Center’s Camp Mindy from 4-5:30 p.m. Dec. 2. Following the program, there will be a half-hour information session about how to start a home school.
“The program will feature between 15-20 different speakers from charter or magnet middle and high schools in the area,” said Lewin.
The representatives will provide information, such as the school’s location, contact information, application guidelines, and what kind of student would be a good match for the school. A question-and-answer session will follow the presentations, and representatives will stay afterwards for one-on-one questions.
Participating schools are: Charlotte Secondary Paideia School, Queens Grant Charter School, Lake Norman Charter School, Union Academy, Carolina International School, Community School of Davidson, Piedmont Community School, Mountain Island Charter school, Crossroads Charter High School, Socrates Academy, Metrolina Regional Scholars Academy, Sugar Creek Charter School, Northwest School of the Arts, Performance Learning Center, CATO Middle College, Randolph IB Middle School, Piedmont IB Middle School, Central Academy of Technology and Arts, Phillip O’Berry STEM high school, JM Morehead STEM Middle School, North Carolina School of Science and Math (boarding school in Raleigh), North Carolina School for the Arts (boarding school in Winston-Salem).
Lewin is expecting about 200 parents and students. She asks that parents send reservation requests to her at email@example.com.
“If people are interested, we will do this again,” said Lewin. “Charlotte and the surrounding counties are now exploding with other options. … If a student is in a school where he/she feels comfortable he/she is more likely to thrive, graduate, and go on to college.”