Six months into her pregnancy, Maria Montiel began to feel contractions, and her mother’s intuition told her it was too soon for her to deliver her twins. After suffering a miscarriage at the same time during a previous pregnancy, she knew she needed medical attention.
Maria entered the emergency room, with tears in her eyes, fearing for her babies’ lives. She saw the twins on the fetal monitors and was assured by her doctor that everything would be OK.
Liam and Ryder were born micro preemies at 24 weeks. With weak immune systems and only a 50% chance of living, the twins had to remain in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for more than 115 days.
As the twins grew, many medical challenges followed, including seizures. David and Maria Montiel viewed their home as a safe haven to protect their children from viruses that could become fatal for their children.
Scientific and medical research shows that the most rapid brain development occurs in the first few years of life. While the Montiels were doing what they felt was in the best interest of their twins to keep them healthy, they recognized that the lack of socialization with other children at an early age could cause a setback in the twins’ early education and social development. Both parents were still apprehensive about enrolling their children in a pre-k program but knew it had to be done if the boys were to build a strong foundation for their future.
“We were afraid to leave our lives—our children—in the hands of a school that would not pay attention to them and their health,” Maria said.
For the first four years of the twins’ lives, Liam and Ryder were an ever-present fixture at their parents’ side. That all began to change when the Montiels registered at Pre-K 4 SA. During Welcome Week, the parents let the boys spread their wings and play with other children their age during parent orientation. Maria and David were still hesitant to let their twins out of their sight, but the twins were ecstatic to have met and played with other children.
The Montiels also noticed that Pre-K 4 SA did something that many schools don’t do anymore.
“When the teachers came to the house for a home visit, I knew that Liam and Ryder were heading to a great school. The attention that their teachers demonstrated is unheard of,” David said.
The Montiels have always felt welcomed and confident in the safety of their children at the Pre-K 4 SA West Education Center. That trust was put to the test when Liam suffered a seizure in class just two months into the school year.
Because of the Montiels’ concerns regarding the health of Liam and Ryder, the Pre-K 4 SA staff, including Mark Martinez, Liam’s Pre-K 4 SA teacher, designed a personal emergency plan for both children. The emergency plan was executed correctly, and Liam received successful medical attention in a timely matter.
“Communication from the parents was important. So when [the seizure] happened, it was controlled in the most appropriate manner for everyone involved,” said Martinez.
Pre-K 4 SA listened to the Montiels’ concerns and goals for their twins and implemented strategies to address the boys’ individual needs. It was essential to strengthen their social and communication skills so the twins were enrolled into separate classes.
Ryder had been the more outgoing and active of the two, and he tended to answer for his brother. Placing the twins in separate classes was essential to help Liam develop socially. As a result, Liam has flourished by becoming more engaged in group activities and is eager to share his work with others.
Since enrolling at Pre-K 4 SA, the Montiels have taken advantage of the program’s family specialist and parent liaisons to be involved in all aspects of their children’s early education. They have attended free family workshops and training opportunities offered by Pre-K 4 SA to actively learn more about their children to be consistent in continuing their learning at home.
“The Montiels are always helping in some way,” said Virginia Sandoval, parent liaison at the West Center. “They are very supportive and motivated to help their children grow and succeed.”
David and Maria are grateful to have found a high-quality pre-k program that has helped their twins thrive despite their health challenges. They have seen how much their children have learned and grown in a matter of months.
Liam and Ryder have been accepted to Gardendale Elementary, Pre-K 4 SA’s new partner. The Montiels plan to stay involved in their children’s education and only seek out high-quality programs which truly make a difference.