AZ Local: My Kids Prove It-Magical Journey Learning Center is Magical

How magical is this?  All these years later my 6’1 almost 18-year-old son with the man voice and my super busy 13-year-old girl, with a mountain of gal pals and a schedule that doesn’t stop, both jumped at the chance to go back to Kindergarten to help their beloved very first elementary school teacher.  Correct me if I’m wrong but most teenagers aren’t interested in even thinking back to the time when they were five years old, much less taking time to work at a little kids’ school new location grand opening.  2015 my kids with WillisBut my two were thrilled to do it.  So they helped their beloved teacher from so many years ago get the word out at her school’s new location grand opening.  This magical private school for PreK through 1st grade is fittingly called Magical Journey Learning Center (MJLC).

My teens said yes to helping Mrs. Willis because she is the magical Kindergarten teacher that taught and loves both of my kids.  Michelle Willis left an imprint on their hearts and she nurtured a love for learning that has taken my two quite far today.

Years ago kids and their first day of Kindergarten with the awesome Mrs. Willis.  Time flies and they still adore her.

Years ago now….my kids on their first day of Kindergarten with the awesome Mrs. Willis. Time flies and they still adore her.

Yes I do give her a lot of credit!  And sometimes she worked with hubs and me to use tough love on those rambunctious 5-year-olds when their acting out got the better of them.  She called that “nip it in the bud” moments and we worked together with her to do just that.  It worked as the remaining school years have gone smoothly with hardly any acting out in class in the years that followed.  Good stuff, let me tell you!

I love the meaningful signs that adorn the classrooms at MJLC.  These clever phrases are words that the kids will remember well into adulthood.

I love the meaningful signs that adorn the classrooms at MJLC. These clever phrases are words that the kids will remember well into adulthood.

school shots

My son just scored a 32 on the ACT (98% in the country) and my girl just received her 8th grade schedule and advanced Language Arts and Math are both listed.

So the proof is in the pudding.  They are both thriving and that super important Kindergarten year set the foundation for their future….and so far….continued success.  Yes!

Michelle Willis is one of the founders of Magical Journey Learning Center and the curriculum is both inspiring and fun.  Your kids will be in a small ratio student to teacher class with certified teachers, two of whom are National Board Certified.  MJLC also boasts a Lend a Hand program which teaches community service. The school’s belief is that it is important to teach to the whole child and provide balance so the teachers focus on social, emotional and academics.  My kids are proof that they received all three under the guidance and TLC of Mrs. Willis so many years ago.  Those lessons have stayed with them and now that they are teenagers, can I just tell you how much I appreciate that!  And then some! school roomI will bet you money that when your little one is a high school senior, like my son is now, Mrs. Willis will still be that favorite teacher.

So on that hot summer day a few weeks ago, they went to work their shifts for that favorite teacher they both shared four years apart.  For their time, Mrs. Willis very nicely paid them, but the money isn’t the main reason that they happily accepted her invitation.  It is because, they both told me, it was Mrs. Willis who was asking.

For Mrs. Willis my son would risk his friends driving by teasing him as he danced around with brightly colored balloons and waved a big sign with large letters announcing the school’s grand opening. Jack holding sign

For that favorite teacher that he had so many years earlier, he would stand in the searing hot Phoenix sun…in July mind you…with a big smile and an energetic wave inviting prospective students and their families to come on in to see the new school location.

He knows that those little guys and gals will remember that special teacher like he does now, so many years later, when they are practically all grown up.

My teen girl happily did face painting and actually practiced the evening before on fake mannequin heads that we got at the craft store.  It was important to her the she do a good job for Mrs. Willis and get kids excited to enroll there.  Lexi face paintingShe knows that these kids will experience a magical and high quality education that will take them far.

Two busy teens put their phones away and cleared their morning with an excited smile to work to help a teacher from many years ago….kind of magical, I’d say.

Both of my kids learned math, language arts and more in creative ways.  My daughter still rememebers how Mrs. Willis set up a pretend post office where real letters were mailed.  That was a magical way to learn how to write and read.  I can see by the cool signs that adorn the school walls that the learning continues to be creative and fun. signs

Yep that is magical and planned all in one and that is the kind of future investment MJLC will offer your children with the top notch teachers that include our own Mrs. Willis.

Just check out the Magical Journey website to see the magical things they do in the classroom that will last well past preK, Kindergarten and 1st grade.

inspireHard to believe that we have now experienced almost all of the following grades with just senior year left to dive into next week.  And I know that some of those life lessons learned in Kindergarten will help guide my son as he transitions from high school to college.

Give your kids the best start possible because you don’t get a do over and you won’t believe just how fast senior year gets here.  How he went from a little Kindergartner to this young man posing for his cap and gown picture….how fast that time went by….that really does feel like a magic trick, let me tell you!!then and now





Does Your Child’s Teacher Do This? It Does Take a Village!

Manic:  Raising kids and working with the different caregivers that our children are matched with, like our teachers, coaches, tutors and more.

Managed:  Working together with them because I do believe that it takes a village!  And there is one outstanding teacher that both of my children have been privileged to have that I want to tell you about.

Local long-time Kindergarten teacher Michelle Willis has been a gentle force in our community who does all the right things to provide that incredibly important foundation that must be laid in the all-important Kindergarten year.  Trust me, I speak from experience with my two kiddos!  


Many years ago and my boy in Kindergarten!

First my son, who is a now a 5’8 tall teenager (how did that get here so fast?) who makes all A’s in advanced courses.  I’m convinced that Michelle Willis played a big part in his future success because about halfway through his Kindergarten year, she made a smart move.  Mrs. Willis took me aside and told me that although our son was doing well in class, he was starting to act up and act out and that together we should work to nip it in the bud!  That was the day that I truly understood what the phrase “it takes a village” meant.  So my husband and I scheduled a meeting with Mrs. Willis and then we took her advice.

She advised us to change our after-school care plans if possible, because she felt that the after-hour care he was receiving was making him hyper-active in class.  I would have never thought of that!  So we did and we found a wonderful caregiver that took care of him until we returned home from work.

Mrs. Willis’ instincts were right on because the rest of the school year was smooth sailing, thank goodness!  Other recommendations made by Mrs. Willis that benefited our boy was enrolling him in the school’s Chess Club and challenging him with advanced coursework and creative projects since he showed an aptitude for that.

And wow…this fall he starts high school and was placed in all advanced honors courses.  I’m so glad that we listened to Mrs. Willis and worked together to create a supportive environment, both in and after school, that would lay that foundation for the amazing success that he has had through his school years.

And did I mention that he is my easy one?  On to my girl who came to Mrs. Willis’ Kindergarten class four years later…

This is an old picture now....her first day of Kindergarten with wonderful Mrs. Willis!

From the start, I told Mrs. Willis that our girl would be a “different customer” from our son!  And several months into the school year, she proved us right!  In one day, she broke six school rules with misbehavior that included pushing a girl off a swing because she wanted a turn, playing in the big kids’ side of the school’s playground, hiding under the desk in class and the worst offense of all?  Are you ready for this?  She crumpled up the sad note (as Mrs. Willis labeled the unfortunate note that goes home to the parents) and tossed it right at Mrs. Willis.  And this was happening as Mrs. Willis carried my darling, kicking and screaming, to the school bus!  Yikes!  I was  mortified, but I was also thankful that Mrs. Willis had been our teacher four years earlier, so she knows that we are “good” parents who teach our kids not to do the things that our little princess had done that day!  At least, that is what I kept telling myself as we scheduled another meeting with the teacher!

So, again we worked with Mrs. Willis to “nip the bad behavior in the bud” with consequences that we all agreed on.  These consequences included apology letters written by our girl to those she had offended, plus she was grounded from the big school 50’s dance that was happening that next weekend!  Up until now, I truly hadn’t felt just how hard it is for us parents to disclipine our kids…the punishment is both hard on them and on us!

And when the big dance day arrived, her beautiful 50’s poodle skirt that we had purchased for the big event hung unworn in the closet while big brother, now a 4th grader, slicked his hair back and told her goodbye as he headed out the door to the dance that her poor choices caused her to lose.  I think I felt the sting as much as she did!  Mrs. Willis later emailed me to tell me that our little girl, Lexi, had told her that she “didn’t like consequences” and although it was tough, I was happy to know that Lexi was learning exactly what the word consequences meant and felt like.  Leaning that early is a good thing in life.

I can tell you that the rest of the year went very smoothly.  Not only did we nip the bad behavior in the bud with consequences, but Mrs. Willis discovered a passion that our Lexi has…performing.  So when her class put on a play to help learn about language arts, she cast Alexis as the lead singer in a darling song.  And Lexi has been performing ever since, even singing the National Anthem a few weeks ago at a big Phoenix event.

And now Lexi will be heading to middle school in a year and her grades are strong and her behavior in school has been very good.

Mrs. Willis also  provided tutoring sessions to both of my kids in the summers and she has attended almost all of Lexi’s plays in the last five years.  She has truly made a difference in my kids’ lives and I believe that she is a big part of their success and maturity now!

So the good news is that Mrs. Willis is opening her own school!  If you live in Phoenix, you’ve got to know about this big event!  Along with another excellent teacher that many of my friends rave about, Julie Fischer, these two outstanding teachers are following their dream to open their own school called Magical Journey Learning Center.  It will be located in Ahwatukee and it opens this Fall!  Plus they are offering some very cool summer camps!

Magical Journey Learning Center will provide creative learning instruction for Pre-K children and private Kindergarten classes for parents looking for a low-student ratio with enrichment programs that include Spanish.   For more information and to see the recent article about Magical Journey Learning Center that was just published in the Ahwatukee Foothills News, visit the school’s website.  Simply click here on Magical Journey Learning Center and you will be linked to the website.

I’m wishing Michelle Willis and Julie Fischer all the best as they embark on their dream and open the doors to the Magical Journey Learning Center.  And I’m happy for the families that enroll at this new school because I can tell you first-hand that it does take a village, that laying that important foundation in the PreK and Kindergarten years are crucial and that I’m so glad that our Kindergarten teacher, Michelle Willis did just that for our family!