If teaching is a calling, imagine how loud the voices must be to take a pay cut to work at a school with no classrooms, no walls and no books.
That school is T.M. Landry - the same school that was made famous by its viral videos of students getting into Ivy League colleges. Harvard, Stanford, Brown and that was just this year’s early admission.
Kimberly Owens teaches writing at the school. The former first grade teacher and her husband took a combined $60,000 pay cut to work at the school. It has more than paid off.
“I believe in their vision and I’m totally in…I’m totally in,” she said.
Their son, Brendon, is on a full ride to Cornell. His video went viral last year. He spent his winter break at T.M. Landry, paying it forward.
He says the secret is the school’s family mentality.
The head of the family is the “M” in T.M. Landry, Mike Landry.
“Family first. It's a team culture that breeds success,” he said.
He and his wife Tracey, the principal, have run the school for 12 years.
Mike Landry said the school started in a garage. They are now in a warehouse.
“This is the Taj Mahal for us,” he said.
Originally, the Landrys started the school to ensure kids were really mastering material. At the school, it is mandatory to make a 90 above or fail. And all the tests are giant pop quizzes.
“That allows us to know if you've mastered it vs. you only studied for the test,” he said.
The teachers are given a curriculum but wide latitude to teach it. The students are given a schedule but freedom too. If they are hungry, they eat. If they want to read, they get a book, but one thing they must do is play chess for an hour a day.
At the school there is a 10:1 student ratio. The kids go to school for 12 months a year for 8-12 hours a day, but there is no homework. All that adds up to a 100 percent college acceptance rate and 32 percent get into Ivy League schools. And 76 percent of the students are in the top 100 percent.
As a result, Landry says he has received calls from all over the world to start schools elsewhere and it’s tempting, but he says he wants to stay in Louisiana first.
“Before we do anything else let’s stay home and see what we can do for Louisiana,” he said.
T.M. Landry is the most unconventional of schools, however it has turned some problem kids into problem solving kids and it has also taught them all to reach high and know they are loved.
For more information about T.M. Landry click here.