...School Daze Life CRAZE...
Living in a big metropolitan city has lots of bonuses...You can always do or get what you want or need. In my city, there are lots of parks. We are fortunate to have a great residential area near the city stuff. However, if you want to educate your children....take a deep breath and clear your schedules and perhaps your credit cards. Notice I didn't say pick up and move to the 'burbs. The burbs have been a very last resort for our family. We love being able to walk most places and the thought of using the car for everything is enough to make me want to scream. Don't get me wrong. there is nothing wrong with the suburbs. I am a product of them myself. Although I often dream of the vast back yards and horizontal rather than vertical living that is available there, I still resign myself as a city girl. Ah, but then I went and had kids and decided that educating them might be a great idea. . . . here starts the problem.
Picking an institution to educate my children has been a 2+ year endeavor. Having been an educator myself I thought I had a good handle on what to look for in a school. In hindsight, I don't think anyone can be prepared for this monumental task. My husband and I had a few hurdles to get over. For example, we had to decide if we were ready to trust our cities public schools to teach our children? Do we need to find a private school to do the educating? If so, do we want the private school to be religiously focused? It took us some time and lots of school visits, aka missed work and schedule juggling. We visited school fairs and talked to lots and lots of parents both in this same process and those who've, excuse the pun, graduated from it. The only thing that is consistent with all these parents opinions is this....this process is really tough. Many also said, "It all works out somehow."
We applied to one school last year for Jr. Kindergarten and were rejected. It still boggles my mind to actually set myself up for such a feat but hey, space in a city is limited and someone has to draw the short straw. After the schools organized play date for my son and informal interviews with the admissions director and my husband and me - it was tough not taking this rejection personally.
This year we focused on kindergarten and decided to look into our local public school. It seemed as if the scores were improving steadily in the last couple of years. That was promising. Class size wasn't too big, but only guaranteed to be 32:1 or less. That is a lot of little kids with one teacher. Forget the fund raising....show me a school who doesn't need fund raising and I might just pass out. The demographics were pleasantly diverse and the thought of walking to and from school was heavenly. Low and behold, at the school visit, I learned that classes were often broken up into smaller groups and portions of the students were taught reading by the librarian or, at some schools, the gym teacher. I'm no Einstein but I'm pretty sure that the education for librarians and gym teachers does not necessarily include the fundamentals for reading. And, again, just by the numbers here...I don't see my child pulling the long straw on the individualized attention concept either. The public school is not a bad options, rather, for us, our second option.
In the eleventh hour I cleared my schedule and looked at one more private school - Religiously based. I've been to a few events that were organized by this school. I had always felt so welcomed and warm. This was a true light bulb moment for me. I knew that the parents participation and comfort in the child's learning institution was of utmost importance. Getting to know the administration and learning that some of our friends also sent their children to this school was very refreshing. This school has its own setbacks. It's locationally challenging - carpool a must. It's a newer school and we'd be slight guinea pigs. However, it's exciting to think about the aspect of helping to build a new institution. We went for it. We applied and waited. And Waited. Oh, and we waited. Then there was spring break so we waited some more. School visits to my sons preschool meant more waiting and then.... ... ...
After 2+ years of much struggle, anticipation and grief as to whether we were going to HAVE to move to the 'burbs.... after so many open houses for homes in both the city and the burbs that I've lost count...I got the call I'd been waiting for. "We would like to welcome you to our school. We'd be so pleased if you'd join our family". Music to my ears. "They'd be pleased?" They have no idea how pleased we would be to be welcomed to their family. So, we sucked it up. Paid the deposit and poof. We have a school. We have a means, in the city, to educate our children. We couldn't be more giddy with relief. I guess it all does work out somehow. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that this is all for Kindergarten.......I keep hearing, "No Child Left Behind". But this was close. What will happen when we need a high school or even a college. Hoping that process won't be as daunting is naive but even I am not sweating that yet.