Considering where she and her family were just a year ago, the sight of Sara Aquino’s two daughters walking through the front doors of Future Public School in Garden City brought tears to her eyes.
Aquino, her husband Kevin Matos, and their daughters Zoaris and Samaris moved to Boise from Puerto Rico seven months ago. Hurricane Maria had left the country in shambles; a good education for the girls was too expensive. So the family took the plunge and moved to Boise, where Matos has family.
After eventually finding an apartment, the issue of finding a school for Zoaris and Samaris reared its ugly head. Because of a hectic work schedule, Aquino needed a place where her daughters would not only learn, but would also be taken care of after school.
Just when she was out of ideas, Aquino checked her mailbox and found a flyer for a soon-to-be-opened charter school called Future Public School.
“I said to myself, this is going to be the answer,” Aquino said. “It was a miracle for us. This school was a miracle and the answer for everything that we need.”
Future Public School doesn’t officially open for classes until Aug. 27, but on Saturday, Aquino’s family and the Statesman received an exclusive first look at the school, which is located off East 43rd Street.
The school’s co-founders, Amanda Cox and Brad Petersen, received the charter for the school last August. An entirely new building stands on what was most recently an empty lot — less than a year later.
The school is a modern-looking three-story building. It’s barren at the moment, as construction recently finished. But when classes begin, it will feature cutting-edge technology, innovative learning spaces, free-meal plans, busing, and before and after-school care for students.
“Learning has become more individualized. We’re able to use technology as a tool to facilitate learning for students, meeting them where they’re at,” Petersen said. “There’s a lot more emphasis on each individual student at their own instructional level. Instead of a teacher teaching a whole class the same thing at the same time ... now we have a space where students can be learning what’s just right for them.”
The inaugural class of 256 students at Future will be kindergarten through third grade, which still has a few seats available. When the wheels get turning, the school will be a K-8 institution of 576 students. Each grade will have two teachers and additional “learning engineers” as extra help in the classroom.
As a charter school, Future is a public school, but because of demand for specialized education in a state-of-the-art-facility, it must use a lottery system to determine enrollment.
When Aquino saw the flyer in her mailbox, she never thought her children would be fortunate enough to be students. On Saturday, she watched as Zoaris and Samaris excitedly ran through the hallways and checked out every nook and cranny.
After a long journey, her girls had found a home.
“(It was) the best feeling I could ever have since I moved here,” Aquino said. “Walking in that door, (it shows) anything is possible. Everything is possible, no matter where you come from, what is going on with your life ... that’s why I’m emotional.”