18 December 2009

The Principals Office
For the last month our family has attended several(okay more than several but definitely less than many) school information meetings. Subsequently, we have also met with three Principals of local schools in search of the right fit for Miss Piper. Today...we think we found the ONE. Originally we had hoped to send her to the Chinese Immersion program at a school 10 minutes from us, but upon visiting and asking some hard questions of the program and ourselves we decided that we will probably not seek that option as a first choice, but rather focus on the 'traditional' program.

We have to say that the 'choices' were all absolutely fantastic, although our perceptions of one option in our local district caused us some concern. Not in an educational way, but more in a social inequality kind of way...(insert soapbox visual)

In our District, the State pays for half day Kindergarten only. If you want your child to attend full day Kindergarten (6 hours vs 2.5 hours per day) you must be prepared to shell out $3500. For those children whose parents can afford the full day option, they get the privilege of attending the ACTUAL local Elementary School they will attend through fifth grade...however...if you cannot afford the full day option your child will have to attend half day kindergarten at the MASSIVE 'Kindergarten Center' which 'supports' all the surrounding 6-7 Elementary Schools. I find this kind of Elitist and Separatist and it made me quite sad for the children and their parents that their children couldn't start their Elementary education in the actual school they would attend through their Primary years. To me, and this is just my opinion, real school starts at Kindergarten, and I think children should be in their HOME school from that point onwards. I personally don't like the idea of so many 5-6 year olds in one building with no imput from the older children...it doesn't speak of real community to me (the full day program has 4th & 5th grade ambassadors who spend time with the K-garteners).

So...while the full day at our local very nice, bright and shiny, brand spankin' new school is appealing on some levels...I couldn't get rid of the feeling that it just isn't right to have 'wealth apartheid' in public schools...okay, wealth apartheid might be a little strong, but this is me talking people!

Today we visited another Prinicipal of a school out of our district ($4000 for full day)...and we liked him and his philosophies. Funny thing is that he lives in our town and his children go to our local school! He was VERY candid about his experiences with BOTH of the schools and we appreciated his honesty. The school, while a little older was absolutely the environment we were looking for. ART ART and more ART covered the walls and some ceilings of the entire school, the children had their own Mondrian, Pollock and Impressionist renderings all over the place, every teacher we saw was smiling and chatting happily with his/her students. The children seemed engaged and participating in activities. The student population quietly boasts 22% 'high achiever' according to the National guidelines and has programming in place to assist those who enter school at all levels!

They have an OUTDOOR CLASSROOM courtyard where the teachers can take the students when the weather is nice and teach them outside while they sit on rock benches amongst native plants(there's even an outdoor smart board!)

I have to say, making this choice is so much harder than I imagined. In so many places you go to the school assigned to you and thats it. We are grateful for all the choices we have and the quality of the local schools in Minnesota, and while I bemoan the half day vs full day options, I am glad we live in a State with such a good reputation. Believe me, there are places we have lived where the schools were all on the National watch list!

So...we are going to bite the bullet, sell all our spare organs on ebay and put Piper into this school. We agonized over the expense of full day, but really feel that she needs it, and I personally cannot imagine her waiting until she is 6.5 before she gets a full day of school.


Patricia/NYC said...

Yep...sounds like you found "the one"! I couldn't agree with you more...on every level!!

Carol Geddis said...

I am glad you have finally found the right school for Piper, we are agonizing now and our P is only 3. I plan on spending a lot of time in schools, classrooms and Principal's offices until we find the right fit. Good luck.

Kathy and Joel said...

I am so glad that you have made a decision with which you happy. I remember taking my grade students outside on beautiful days and teach science or art. They always seemed to think more creatively outside.

Michele said...

Yeah that you finally found the perfect school for her and it is sad that you have to pay for it. I never understand the half day thing especially for the kids that are in daycare all day. If they do well in daycare why would you backtrack to half day kindergarten? We hope that we are in a district with full day (we aren't now) when Jammer's time comes.

bytheriver said...

Hi Haley - yes, I am familar with that watch list - all the schools in our town are on it. Except I guess one is starting to pull out of it. In our situation with us both working, though I think going to public school is important, our public school option is watchlist, and the principal was just jailed as a child molester :) nice huh? With funding cut and the ca budget non-existant, we decided on the private school option. Thus far we have been very happy with it and they still do art and music, computer, science, geography, history etc. for kindergarteners. M loves it! She's shouting from the mountain tops. So hopefully your snowflowe will love her school just as much - it sounds like a good fit.

Calico Sky said...

SO glad you worked it all out!

Michael, Shelby, Charlotte and Maeve said...

Awesome news to hear. if I need any organs I'll be sure to check your ebay site. We do not have options around here..it really sucks.

Chinamama said...

The second school sounds wonderful!!! I am dying to know how the outdoor smartboard works. Please tell!!!


Kris said...

i know it's tough to bite that bullet but i am so happy you guys found the perfect place for her. every penny will be worth it :O)

DiJo said...

OK - I need to know what school it is! Now that we will have 2 in Kindergarten (most likely) in 2011 we need to get our acts together!

Merry Christmas Haley! I love the snow pics here. And fabulous job on L's Christmas card!


Faith Hope Love Photography said...

So happy you will get the experience of full day K...I couldn't imagine not doing it. We are so fortunate to not have to pay for it but happy for you guys that you found the one...I would be doing the same thing!!

Jonni said...

Good for you. You are one educated mommy and we have to be our children's biggest advocates right? Good luck with deciding. The 2nd school sounds wonderful I know it is a tough choice. The girls are lucky to have such an awesome mommy and daddy. :)


Jonni said...

Sorry, just reread this, You decided to go with the full time school, the original one right? That's great. Congrats.


Jonni said...

BTW, just checked your EBay shop. I would love to purchase some things when you add them to your shop.