Envision Children: Always Learning
Starting Envision Children was really secondary to Sheryl McConney’s primary goal of wanting to find something to do for her kids during the summer. “As a single parent with two kids, ages five and three, I looked around the Greater Cincinnati area and I couldn’t find any great programs that were fun, interactive, educational and affordable to families.”
Before founding Envision Children, Sheryl did some research on a program in Chicago founded by educational pioneer Marva Collins.
When Collins founded the Westside Preparatory School in 1975, she did so because she was dismayed at the low levels of learning that she felt some students were experiencing in particular areas. Westside Prep became an educational and commercial success. Collins created her low-cost private school specifically for the purpose of teaching low income black children whom Collins felt that the Chicago Public School System had labeled as being learning disabled. Collins said she had the data to prove that students were teachable and were able to overcome obstacles of learning via her teaching methods, which she said eliminated behavioral issues and allowed students to flourish. Collins applied classical education, in particular the Socratic Method, modified for use in primary schools, successfully with impoverished students.
The results Collins was seeking for her students and the methodology of how to get those results struck a nerve with Sheryl and she approached Collins about importing her teachings into a program in the Greater Cincinnati area. At the time of this conversation, President Bush has unveiled his “No Child Left Behind (NCLB)” initiative and there was money behind that program that was being invested through the each state Department of Education.
Sheryl received financial support for tutoring through a for-profit company she had established in 1999 called the Envision Learning Center (ELC). After the turn of the century and up to late 2008, the ELC grew into the second largest tutoring program in the City of Cincinnati, but then funding dried up and the NCLB ended. Many children had benefited greatly from the ELC’s work, and Sheryl knew that while federal dollars were no longer available there was still an enormous need for affordable academic assistance in the region.
The concept and founding of Envision Children came out of Sheryl’s desire to keep working with families who has a desire to have their own children participate in educational programs that were hands-on, interactive and fun. “Our students need to be part of educational programs which allow them to experience learning as opposed to just reading about it in a book or on the computer.”
“When I was growing up science class used to be fun. We did experiments; we used our hands and our minds to learn. These days kids learn a lot of information from the internet on the computer. You can see science experiments on You Tube, other programs will model results of what happens from these experiments thousands of times. What is missing is the hands-on experience of actually doing the work. We want our students to experience learning as it happens in the world around them and then show them the concepts and academics that makes those experiences possible.”