Jannet Dannon-Mairena

Jannet Dannon-Mairena

My name is Dr. Jannet Dannon-Mairena and no, I do not have any rights to the Dannon stocks (very sad face gets inserted here!). I was born in Cuba and moved to Venezuela at the age of 9. Take the ‘b’ out of Cuba and you have my new city: Cua. Imagine the confusion. After living for 5 years with the most wonderful people, Venezuelans, my nuclear family and I moved to Miami Beach, FL.

Arriving to Miami Beach Senior High in the middle of 9th grade and being placed in two P.E. classes just because they couldn’t possibly figure out what to do with so many immigrating ESOL high schoolers, shocked not only my confused soul but my poor calves and abs. Thankfully, I was able to convince Mrs. Suarez to move me from 3rd grade math to Pre-Algebra. A big thank-you is also due to Mr. Redondo for playing Madonna’s “I am a Virgin” in an effort to teach us English as a second language. I think I owe it to those who are wondering how in the world you arrive to another country in the middle of 9th grade and progress to receiving a Pharm. D. degree to tell you that I learned to speak English by taking French classes. Since this is where I get to shine on paper, I would also add that I won First Place in the French Congress Competition; yes, I could have taken Spanish but why make life easy. I learned during this time that you can lock Mr. Montoya out of the classroom and then let him in to painfully receive zero’s (we will blame Klauss and JC for that). Keep up with the story now because as you can start gathering my High School education had no depth with the exception of Algebra, Geometry, Government and Mrs. Greer’s English Class. Four years and only four meaningful classes. As I now continue to homeschool my 12th grade son, I can’t help but compare and contrast my education to his. What is it that makes us successful? Wait! How are we defining success?

Miami Dade College was the most appropriate transition to a higher education. Of course I knew from the beginning of time that I wanted to be a pharmacist. Yes, that is what the credentials I wrote before mean, Pharm. D. is the Doctorate in Pharmacy. Thus I worked hard, applied to one and only one college of Pharmacy, and got accepted. Indescribable to be the first person in all the previous generations of your family to have a degree from an University. My patient boyfriend (who I met that first day of that long-forgotten high school) finally had his dream come true and made me his wife. And.. Indescribable to be pregnant with my first love a few months later. Because now, now what do I do with that famous university degree? Keep in mind we have not defined success yet.

Moving forward faster, I report my first born came and a bolt of love shook my soul, then another, and just when we thought we were done, another one hit. I have been homeschooling my children since I would read The Lion King to the first one while he was still in my belly. I currently homeschool the oldest and the youngest. The middle one has entered an amazing high school (Design and Architecture Senior High) and I must report is flourishing. Soon, my oldest son will be 18 years old! I have tried many homeschooling curricula and many styles of homeschooling. As I jokingly tell you the turns of my life, I can’t help but continue to struggle to define success.

From the sky fell one day the administration of a homeschooling enrichment center. My partner and I grew Homeschoolers of Miami Enrichment from 17 families to 50. Once a week we meet armed with one and only one thing in common: we homeschool. The United Nations can possibly internship in our group and really get an idea of what it is to respect each other knowing that as soon as we leave the premises we will realize how extremely different each homeschooling family is from the next. I feel I can define success right here, under this particular microscope magnification. Fifty different families, using different curricula, practicing different religious beliefs, having different family dynamics, put it all aside and coexist in peaceful sway. Our homeschooling enrichment group infuses a weekly dose of friendship, fellowship, support, smiles, hugs, and love. Each one a complex world of questions and fears. Each one asking themselves: will this path make my children successful? AH! But what is success?

Is success a true metamorphosis? I felt successful when I graduated top 10% of High School after such migratory struggles. I felt successful when I got accepted to college. I felt successful when I got accepted to University of Florida College of Pharmacy. I felt successful when I graduated with a Pharm. D. Degree. I felt successful when I married the love of my life. I felt successful when I nursed my first born for almost 6 years. I felt successful when I decided to homeschool against all the odds of our society’s “norms”. I felt successful when I helped my second child transition from our all-too-comfortable homeschooling world to the regular school system. I felt successful when I could wear all my hats proudly: homeschooling, working part-time, running a homeschooling co-op and being on the Board of Temple Israel. I feel successful when a hot meal is served and the whole family sits at the table. Education does not have a mold or specific color. Is homeschooling the key to a successful education? Well, we would have to start this essay over and define SUCCESS! May my children find the freedom to define how they feel successful. In the meantime: chao, hasta luego, Au revoir, bye, and shalom!

Dr. Jannet Dannon-Mairena
T./Fax 786-597-7435 • rushi2@hotmail.com • Miami, Florida • www.home4homeschoolers.com