Rita Ponce’s son, Mateo, (virtually) graduated from kindergarten this year atcampus. Mateo is a bright, energetic and curious young boy who always wants to learn and is ahead of the curve for someone his age. She offered some insight into Mateo’s first year at West Belden–one filled with growth, opportunity, challenges and unchartered territory.
When looking for a school that would fit Mateo’s needs, Rita chose to enroll him at CICS West Belden. She chose West Belden because she saw that the level of education was better than at the Pre-K school he had attended. Once there, she saw his growth in knowledge surpass his grade level and is proud of what he has accomplished thus far. “ I can’t wait to see what next year brings. He has already learned to read and to add double-digit numbers and I am also very happy to see that he loves math.”
As a concerned mother looking out for the best interest of her child, Rita looked at other schools in the area but said, “When my father and I toured the West Belden campus, we were both amazed by the learning structure and the dedication the teachers had with each child.” They saw that, no matter the child’s learning difficulties, there was someone always there for them to support them throughout their struggles. “I like the fact that each child is evaluated and is able to advance in various ways throughout the school year.”
Rita believes West Belden teachers and staff take excellent care of their students. Whether its consoling students or providing them a well-rounded education, Rita and Mateo feel they are part of the West Belden family! She appreciates the hands on learning students receive and that there is a ‘no-bullying policy’ on campus. Rita has also become a parent ambassador for West Belden, “To be honest, I have been promoting CICS West Belden to all my family and friends in the neighborhood. I tell parents about how I am proud of my son's accomplishments and the scholarly student he has become due to the teachers at CICS-West Belden.”
Rita chose to keep Mateo at CICS West Belden for first grade even though he has been accepted at several other schools. She explained, “Though I have applied to other schools, I don’t want to interrupt Mateo's education and all he has accomplished at West Belden. He has grown to be a scholarly student and I see that he has the potential to do more. I am happy with his education and the social atmosphere at CICS West Belden. Mateo loves going to school each day and has made many friends.”
Rita is a single mother with one child living in Dunning Square neighborhood. Rita works full-time as an Administrative Supervisor, Clinical Operations for the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital for the past 22 years. Her father lives with her and Mateo. Before the pandemic, Mateo was involved in Dance Expressions tap/ballet and is now doing that virtually as well as taking piano lessons.