Travanna Toney, 1st and 3rd grade parent

When my family and I relocated from New Orleans, LA to Kansas City, MO 12 years ago, we didn’t have any children, so at that time, the state of the public school system was not a factor in choosing where we purchased our home.  However, four years later, I had my first child and when the time came for us to choose a school. We chose Kansas City Public Schools because we understand effective parent/school partnerships positively impact student learning. And, being products of public school systems, we felt that the public school system offers everything a child needs to be successful which is why we chose Holliday Montessori. Our daughter began attending Holliday Montessori as a P-4 student in 2012, and is now a third grader, who excels academically, performing above both the district and national standards in reading and math.

I also have six year old twins, who began attending Holliday Montessori as P-3 students and are now first graders.  My twins were born severely premature and as a result, required specialized educational services including physical, occupational and speech therapies in the school setting.  With the support of their teachers, and support staff, they received the services they needed to reach their developmental milestones while receiving educational instruction.  Since becoming a part of the Holliday family in 2012, I have always felt that the leadership, teachers and staff were dedicated to helping students reach their fullest potential, and I didn’t think there was much the school could have done to improve.  However, at the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic school year, we got a new leader in Mrs. Bass-Barlow, the third principal in five years, and she has surpassed all of my expectations!

Compassionate about performance and committed to excellence, Mrs. Bass-Barlow jumped in from the beginning, working long hours to ensure she was ready for the first day of school and guaranteeing students had a clean, welcoming environment that was conducive to learning.  Mrs. Bass-Barlow has cultivated a culture of open communication and support with teachers and parents alike.  She is constantly engaging parents, teachers, students and staff to assess what is working well within the school and builds upon those strengths, while identifying areas of growth to make changes to improve things.  As a result, Holliday has adopted new teaching modalities to help students improve academically and a new perspective on school attendance and how important coming to school is.  Reaching 90/90 attendance is the school’s Wildly Important Goal (WIG) and students receive incentives for perfect attendance.  This goal is so important that the school’s mantra has become, “Every Student should come to school on time, every day, for the entire day.”   Educating parents about the importance of student attendance and how learning occurs in the classroom is also a focus.  Therefore, Parent education nights are offered at least quarterly which builds parent/school relationships and increases student performance.

In addition to academics, Holliday focuses on promoting social and emotional growth for its students.  Mrs. Bass-Barlow has created social opportunities for students that they didn’t have in the past, such as the Back to School Carnival, Movie Night, and the Halloween Trunk or Treat.  The school’s LINC team also plays a critical role in offering extracurricular activities such as Chess and Good News.  Holliday students’ also benefit from Mrs. Barlow’s diligence in building community partnerships, as Kansas City Community Gardens recently came to the school and taught students how to build planters and they planted the first vegetables of this season.  These types of collaborations, bridge classroom learning to practice, while developing school and community relationships.

I consider the students, teachers, staff and leadership at Holliday Montessori my extended family.  Everyone from the principal, who leads with determination and focus; to the teachers, who are patient and student-focused; to the janitors who take pride in maintaining a clean learning environment; to the cafeteria staff who fuel our students body and mind preparing them to learn has contributed to my children’s academic success.   We appreciate everyone’s contribution and we couldn’t be part of a better school community.

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