Owners of Imagine visit

Article published on November 8, 2012 by The Weekly Challenger. BY DEXTER MCCREE and ISABELLE OPPER ST. PETERSBURG — The vision of new principal, Carolyn Wilson, of Imagine Schools at St. Petersburg is in full view. The owners of the school, the Bakke family, made a recent visit to watch the excitement take place. Student writer Isabelle Opper, an eighth grader at the school, recorded the visit as a part of the new journalism program. What did the owners think? Let’s ask Isabelle. Who are the Bakkes? Dennis and Eileen Bakke are the owners of Imagine Schools. As they put their son through Christian school, they felt they could improve on the growth of child learning- their motto is “No child left behind”— while also creating a caring and family-like atmosphere that is similar to a Christian school. However, Imagine is open to everyone. The school they envisioned had a family-like atmosphere that was not just for the students, but also for the parents and teachers. This atmosphere creates a common goal: expanding the child’s education. This isn’t their first time educating children. Eileen has been educating children since she was one herself; she set up a summer tutoring program when she was only 11! What do the Bakkes want to see in their schools? The Bakkes created three measures for excellence: Justice, Integrity, and Fun (JIF). Having a fun school was one of the requirements for Imagine. They also didn’t want to just measure a child’s success in academics standard but also in character development. They wanted to make sure that the students were becoming respectable people, and eventually respectable adults. One quality that makes Imagine so specially is parental involvement. Parent involvement not only means attending parent/ teacher conferences, but it also means volunteering at the school for 20 hours per family per year. Going to parent/ teacher meetings each month or the school advisory council meetings are all part of these volunteer hours. What did the Bakkes see in our school? While touring the school, the Bakkes met with the first, third and fourth grade students. The students demonstrated how they were learning reading, math, and science. They then sat down with the first graders and listened to them tell of their field trip to the Mayor’s office, and how they were also learning about locomotives. As we toured the school, I asked some students how they felt about Imagine. Shawn, a second grader from Mrs. Schmitt’s room, said he likes school because he gets to have PE, play outside with his friends and that he has a nice teacher. All but one of the students I asked agreed Imagine was a great school. After the tour was over, a few parents discussed with Mrs. Bakke the impact Imagine has had on their children’s lives, and how they were pleased with the genuine concern of the teachers and staff. The Bakkes hope to see more success from the St. Petersburg branch of Imagine School, and I hope that we do not let them down, and that we keep up the growth within our school.