“We feel so great about the staff and leadership at Congress and at GRPS.”
To people driving by Congress Elementary, it might not look like much, but to its staff, students, parents, and neighbors, it’s a very special place.
Jono Klooster and his wife, Emily, chose Congress for their oldest child, Jude, who is a kindergartner this year.
Jono said, “When we visited Congress, it was apparent right from the beginning that the staff and the leadership were going to partner with us to provide the education that will allow our kids to succeed in the future.”
Emily is also impressed with the staff at Congress. She said, “Congress is a very warm and welcoming place. The principal is amazing. All of the staff I’ve come into contact with seem very excited to be there. I had Jude’s kindergarten teacher tell me that she wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
It’s not just the staff who are enthusiastic about Congress. The East Hills Council of Neighbors is spearheading an effort to transform Congress through a partnership dubbed “East Hills Loves Congress”. That partnership is now the model for neighborhood-school partnerships and is being replicated at Mulick Park Elementary on the City’s southeast side.
It was the recommendation from East Hills Council of Neighbors that caused Emily and Jono, who are Midtown residents and live within Congress’s attendance area, to take a look at their neighborhood school.
“What originally piqued our interest in Congress, other than the close proximity, is the fact that East Hills Council of Neighbors was involved, and we really in a lot of ways think they’re a really cool neighborhood association. The fact that they were kind of endorsing Congress Elementary made us more eager to see the school and meet the staff,” said Emily.
Jono agrees, “The partnership between Congress and not just East Hills, but the other neighborhoods in the district and the area, is hugely important because not only then do you get the parents and the families with kids there, you get other people in the neighborhood involved as well. So you see business owners and you see families without kids and you see families with 2 and 3 year-olds that are now involved in the Congress community and it makes it that much stronger.”
That energy contributes to what Emily describes as “a buzz surrounding the school”.
Of course, academics are very important to the Klooster’s, so they were excited to learn that Congress is committed to meeting the needs of all children by recognizing their individual needs.
“They know the children individually very well and they serve them individually very well. They are required to teach differently to each child. Because of the smaller class sizes, they really can accomplish that,” Emily explains.
She saw this in action during the first week of school when Jude came home with a form from his teacher asking Emily and Jono to list Jude’s strengths and weaknesses and describe where they wanted to see him grow.
“The next day I could tell that Jude’s kindergarten teacher had memorized his form and was addressing some things already…It made me feel very confident about her relationship with Jude,” said Emily.
As proud City residents and proud parents, Jono and Emily couldn’t be happier with their experience at Congress. Jono said, “We’re committed to the City. We’re committed to the City’s success and that’s not going to happen without GRPS. Our ability to participate in what’s happening at GRPS right now is really exciting.”
The enrollment form is available online at www.grps.org/enrolltoday, at Student Services, or at any GRPS school. Upon enrolling, you will need to submit your child’s legal birth certificate, proof of residence, immunization record, emergency contact info, and any academic records.