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City shouldn't close Monarch Academy

As a Baltimore City teacher, I found myself both delighted and disheartened by the recent article in The Baltimore Sun (“Attacks on Baltimore school employees revive discussions about student discipline,” Nov. 29). As stated in the article, system CEO Sonja Santelises and her administration plan to focus on “student wholeness” by implementing restorative practices, improving school climate and teaching de-escalation strategies.

As a teacher at Monarch Academy Baltimore City, I am proud to be part of a school community where our mission and daily practice supports “student wholeness.” Each day, the staff at Monarch Academy Baltimore City works to ensure that the needs of the whole child are met. This includes mental health services, transportation, food, clothing and most recently access to affordable housing. Each day our students are provided with a safe and nurturing environment, brain-based strategies, and social and emotional learning to ensure their success inside and outside the classroom. These reasons, among many others, are why I have chosen to be a teacher at Monarch Academy.

Although I am delighted that Baltimore City Public Schools plans to focus on “student wholeness,” I am extremely disheartened by the recommendation to close Monarch Academy Baltimore City. Closing Monarch Academy would mean closing an institution that services the “student wholeness” of 1,000 children and an entire community. I invite Ms. Santelises to visit Monarch Academy Baltimore City in order to see first hand how we support the whole child academically, socially, and emotionally. As Ms. Santelises stated in the article in reference to student discipline, “each situation deserves to be looked at within the proper context.” I ask the same for Monarch Academy. We are a school that supports the whole child, the whole family and the whole community.

Diana Civera Speer, Baltimore

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