As a student, Cora struggled from 1st grade on because of learning disabilities. “I always felt lost,” Cora, 28, recalls. “And with 25 other kids in my class, the teachers never had the time to help me or explain things to me. I want my kids to have a different experience. “
So when the Milwaukee Rescue Mission opened CrossTrainers Academy in 2006 to educate at-risk children in low-income homes, like Cora's, she quickly enrolled her oldest child, Shalonda, in 1stgrade. Today, all three of her children — ages 6, 8, and 10 — attend school at CTA.
“I like CrossTrainers because the classrooms are small enough that my kids get all the one-on-one attention they need,” Cora says. “I like that (the teachers) are Christians. I believe faith has everything to do with success.”
But the main thing Cora loves about the school is that the teachers care. Cora recalls when she separated from her kids' father, Shalonda started acting up at school — getting angry, crying, talking back.
“Shalonda's teacher didn't ignore her or brush her aside,” Cora says. “She took the time to listen and pray with her. And she'd call me at home, and we'd talk about how to improve her behavior. She even took time to pray with me!”
Cora's goal is to see her kids get the education she didn't get. “I want my kids to learn everything they possibly can, even if it means being smarter than their mom. My dream is to see all of them graduate from college. That's my dream.”
Seeing her kids succeed has even encouraged Cora to return to school. She is currently enrolled at Milwaukee Area Technical College, where she's studying social work. “We all sit around the table every night and do our homework together,” Cora says. “I want to show my kids to never give up on school. If they see me in school, maybe they'll want to continue in the future.”
“I thank God every day that my kids get this chance to go to a school like CrossTrainers.”