The following letter was submitted to the Cannon Online for publication from Justina Jenkins, Head of School at Rivertree Academy, a private school near Ft. Worth:
November 14, 2023 As the Head of School at Rivertree Academy, I have the honor to serve the families and children in the Lake Como Community located in Fort Worth, Texas. Rivertee Academy is a private Christian school located in the heart of the community. We’ve built our school on a foundation of academic (small classroom sizes with individualized attention) and social (trauma-informed) distinctives, while also incorporating core values of Faith; Excellence; and Magnanimity. Our innovative approach to education gives children living in generational poverty a bigger vision for their lives and shows them that their current circumstances do not dictate their future. Schools like Rivertree Academy are the evidence needed to make an airtight case for bringing the ESA program to Texas.
Rivertree Academy’s mission is to educate under-resourced students to live life well: following Jesus, thriving academically, and transforming their communities. While serving students living primarily in the Como neighborhood, the student body at Rivertree Academy comes from a multitude of backgrounds and family situations – each family and student bring a unique story to our school. In an effort to best serve each student that walks through our doors, Rivertree approaches education with a focus on the whole child–spiritual, academic, and social well-being.
Rivertree Academy is flesh-and-blood proof that dispels any myth that low-income students would not benefit from school choice coming to Texas. Students coming from low-income neighborhoods often need additional supports that go above and beyond baseline services. Reality dictates that not every school can provide the breadth of services to each student walking through their doors; at this point it is imperative that a family has the opportunity to choose what is best for their child and that child’s needs.
We are purposely designed to help the exact same students that can benefit from the ESA program – it is built into our mission. We are an accredited school with a nine-year history in this community, and we have proven results. Our goal is to remove financial barriers for families that wish to attend a school like Rivertree Academy, opening the doors for possibilities that fit their child’s specific needs. Operating this way is in not only in alignment with the driving forces of school choice – we are proving that it works. When parents are able to make intentional education decisions for the child, the result is placing those children in an environment that meets their needs and makes their flourishing an inevitable reality.
Rivertree Academy fully supports HB 1; we hope this snapshot of the work happening at our school helps push the bill towards becoming a law.
Justina Jenkins, Ph.D.
Head of School