Aisha Rogers knew immediate changes had to take place.
In August 2012, Rogers enrolled her son, Caleb Rogers, in a public school that was in close proximity of her job at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
What she discovered within a matter of weeks affected her in a variety of ways.
Caleb, a then five-year-old child wasn’t his usual happy-go-lucky self. Instead, he found it virtually difficult becoming acclimated with his surroundings and struggled establishing a rapport with his peers.
As his mother recalls, Caleb’s instructors and school administrators sensed her son was suffering with a learning disorder, an assessment she didn’t concede to accept.
“His self-esteem was devastating and that joy for learning and going to school was going away,” Aisha Rogers explained. “And that was wearing me down emotionally. Children can’t really verbalize how they’re feeling. It was just something I felt when I dropped him off at school. And I think what bothered me was when I asked Caleb who was his friends and he said, ‘I don’t have any friends.’”
After nearly three months of harboring much uncertainty about her son’s educational future, Aisha Rogers and her husband, William, ultimately decided to transfer their only child from a public to a private institution that is also near Aisha’s job. After weeks of careful researching, they chose to enroll him at First Class Montessori School at 1336 Peabody Avenue in midtown.
For seven-year-old Caleb, the move to a private facility in December 2012 has proven beneficial in many aspects. For starters, he wasted little time adjusting to the new establishment and, to his credit, he’s become a fixture in an assortment of sports in the process.
Caleb is in his second full season as member of Idlewild’s youth basketball league, a far cry from the difficulties and challenges he endured while in the public school system. Among the reasons he has reverted back to his usual delightful self as a youth athlete is that attending a private institution has afforded him to garner one-on-one attention from his instructors, a trend that seemed unlikely while attending a public school.
“With that impact of transferring him, with his self-esteem, and putting him in a more nurturing environment, people allow him to be more free to explore…you know, explore what it is he’s doing,” Aisha Rogers said. “I’m relieved in that I made the right decision. The worst thing you want to do is look back and say, ‘I made the worst decision.’ My child doesn’t have a behavior problem. This child capitalizes off a certain way of learning. So why not leverage off what he’s learns? I just felt (the public school system) wasn’t a good fit.”
The favorable strides Caleb has made since transitioning to private school has benefited him greatly, considering he is now becoming more intuned to recreational sports. Besides basketball, he also has put his skills on display in soccer and baseball. Aside from sports, he frequently takes part in piano lessons and has proven to be fluent in a variety of other languages.
Caleb often speaks Japanese, Spanish, and is becoming quite familiar with Swahili sign language.
“I find myself going through a theme of what works,” Aisha said.
Sports also have played a pivotal role in Caleb’s progress in the classroom. By and large, that is no surprise, given his father’s life centered on sports when he was a child growing up in North Memphis. Between 1993 and 2007, William Rogers worked at Hollywood Community Center, where teaching discipline and perseverance through recreational sports was a customary trend.
Like his wife, William Rogers agreed that moving Caleb from a public to private institution has brought about an assortment of positive changes for his son, most notably on the basketball court.
“I play on Saturdays and he plays on Saturdays,” he said. “I think the biggest change for him was when you talk to him, he’d look down with no confidence. He was bashful and shameful. And now when you talk to him, he gives you eye-to-eye contact. Sports are about rules and control. He’s aggressive and he doesn’t like to give up anything. And that’s what I like.”
That Caleb has thoroughly embraced basketball in recent months, it’s safe to assume that along with private school, he isn’t giving that up anytime soon.
“I love to dribble and shoot,” said Caleb, a slim, tall swingman who is starting to play multiple positions on the court. “And I like my teammates. They’re fun.”
That’s because mom knew best all along.